‘Can’t anyone help? Won’t anyone help?’ cried a mother at the end of her tether as she struggled to get professional care for her mentally-ill daughter.
This powerful message was vividly portrayed in a heart-rending production by students at Henry Fanshawe School in Dronfield.
The true story of troubled Verity Taylor who destroyed her family’s life, was ostracised at school for being different, started a fire in the geriatric wing of a hospital and was sent to Broadmoor inspired Olwen Wymark to write the play Find Me. Verity’s condition was undiagnosed by medics in the Seventies and her parents faced an uphill battle to get the right care for her.
Portraying this traumatic tale was a weighty challenge for the creative arts students but one which they didnt’t flinch from. First-class acting, well-formed characters and imaginative staging made this production the school’s best yet.
Ellie Cook, Rachael Luscombe, Lily Ford and Lucy Pratt portrayed Verity at various stages in her life, from confused child prone to destructive tantrums to the 20-something incarcerated in a mental hospital. Verity’s breakdown in which she covered herself in paint and food and later self-harmed were harrowing scenes while white noise and projected visual distortion conjured up a mind in turmoil.
Dylan Lambert and Ela Yalcin put heart and soul into the roles of Verity’s parents, their growing desperation tugged the heart-strings as they were stonewalled by medical and social workers either through lack of resources or understanding of their plight.
In his programme notes, director Jon Parker commented: “Recent government cutbacks have seen a significant decline in funding to mental health services and many experts fear that a crisis in the standard and provision of care is likely.”
Jon and his talented pupils should be applauded for a brave production which tackled an emotive and sensitive subject.
The final public performance of Find Me is at Henry Fanshawe School tomorrow (Friday, February 5) at 7.30pm.