REVIEW: Lockdown (Auckland Fringe)

Review by Cynthia Lam

[Time for a Lockdown]

“Memories will fade if you let them.  If you tuck them away on the top shelf.  That’s how you keep going when you’ve got nothing left.  That’s how you stay a step ahead of the emptiness.  That’s how you cope”. – Martha in Lockdown

Lockdown, written by Nik Rolls and directed by Matthew Diesch, is an intense psychological drama that explores the complexities of dissociative identity disorder (DID).  Played by a very strong all-female cast, the show focuses on the life of Emma (Amanda Rolls) who suffers from DID and her romantic partner Jacqui (Denise Snoad), who are confined in their house because of a lockdown.  The “alters” (other personality states) of Emma were created as a form of self-protection against her own traumatic past. Each alter is convincingly portrayed by a different actor with their own distinct personalities. These include Martha (the domestic matriarch, played by Sophie Sharp), Lily (the young innocent child, Aimee Olivia), Keira (the rebellious teenager, Jessica Bennett), and Zoe (the flirtatious seductress, Lily Louise Garrard).

The play opens with each of the characters taking centre stage in turn and introducing themselves to the audience.  A rather clever staging technique is used when the alters are seated motionless behind the presenting character in dimmed lighting, conveying the symbolic meaning and producing a rather uncanny effect.  As the play progresses, we are made aware that something terrible has happened to Emma as a child. I am left wanting to uncover the mystery of her past, but also not wanting, as I am afraid that it will be traumatic and uncomfortable.

Although having no in-depth knowledge of DID before seeing the show, I could relate to the themes of a couple in conflict and co-dependent relationships.  Emma is a troubled young woman, and Jacqui, in having to deal with Emma and her multiple personalities, is feeling the strain.  The intensity of the play builds as the conflict between Emma, Jacqui and her alters escalate, culminating in a climax which is both powerful and surprising. This is part of the strength and essence of the play — presenting the complexities of having to live with dissociative identity disorder and past childhood trauma in an upfront and serious way.  There are no jokes to alleviate the seriousness of the issues presented, no happy ending, no cure — Lockdown is intense, featuring issues worth discussing.

Lockdown is presented by The Acting Collective and plays at Garnet Station (February 21 to 25) and The Classic Studio (February 27 to March 3) as part of Auckland Fringe.

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