As part of her ongoing post-show Q&A series, Mates co-founder Terri Paddock heads to London’s Omnibus Theatre tomorrow (6 March 2020) for the premiere of Can I Help You?, the final play by pioneering British theatremaker Philip Osment. Got any questions?
An off-duty English policeman is about to throw himself off Beachy Head when he is met by a Ghanaian woman carrying a laundry bag and a cat box. Over the course of one night, two very different people learn what it truly means to be touched by the magic of hope. A nuanced and compassionate piece, it finds hope in the bleakest of circumstances.
How do race and gender intersect with issues of mental health? Gabriel Vick and Susan Aderin star as Francis and Fifi in this poetic and uplifting examination Playing ON, the company co-founded by the late Philip Osment, who died last year.
Can I Help You? is partly inspired by characters created by service users and clinicians in a six-week theatre engagement programme that Playing ON ran with East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and Theatre Royal Stratford East, as well as several interviews with members of the Ghanaian community. The company looks to marry professional theatre and socially engaged practice, using theatre as a method for the powerless and the powerful to explore common issues and find insight into the other’s perspective.
Director Jim Pope says:
“The most precious thing Philip gave to me was the understanding that the real way to engage a group is to listen, respect, honour who they are and treat their offerings as precious gifts. This leads to trust and the permission to interpret, challenge, question, and makes stories. Philip was a teacher, mentor, therapist and so many other things to me; he was a friend. His practice is the bedrock of our work, which I take forward into every creative space we enter.”