As we all become more and more isolated by the, eh, joys of living our lives online, the need to reach out and touch somebody real has become ever more crucial. 

Whether it’s a night out on the town or just a quiet afternoon coffee, simply being with other people gives us all some much-needed remove from our four walls and the shouting match that is social media. 

For young playwright Lorna Dalton, sitting in on some group sessions for Suicide Or Survive opened up her eyes to the power of simply sharing your troubles, admitting to others the darkness that you feel being, in truth, a way of admitting that darkness to yourself. And a way of letting the light in. 

“The stigma around mental illness is alive and thriving still in Ireland today,” says Dalton when she visited The Happy Pear, “but we are beginning to recognise this condition more and more, and that makes it easier for people to cope, to get better…” 

For her part, Dalton wanted to bring those SOS group  sessions to a wider public, to reach out to those who might be too frightened to admit they have a problem. Having written small comedy sketches before, with Dublin’s Greenhills Variety Group, the idea of creating a play around five participants attending a weekly support group quickly took hold. Determined to keep it as real-life as possible – “Most people I know just don’t relate to ‘theatre’,” explains Dalton – during the debut run of Lean On Me at The Loose End, one member of the audience started chatting to one of the characters on stage. After another performance, a woman approached Lorna, to let her know that she recognised herself up there onstage. 

“People talk about their work coming from the heart,” interjects Ger Ronan, the director who took Lean On Me to the big stage, “but this play also comes from the gut. It’s stripped bare of any falsehoods, of any contrivance or false language. Which is why audiences have been reacting so strongly…” 

Coming to The Whale on Saturday, September 22nd, Quill Productions‘ Lean On Me is part fun night out and part group hug. You’ll feel better for it. Laughter will do that to you.


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