In Fruitcake: Ten Commandments From the Psych Ward, the U.K.'s Rob Gee draws from his experiences as a psych nurse, and in some ways he feels like the kind of guy you’d be happy to have help you out. Off the top, he points out that normalcy is a “not very interesting illusion”. He notes that “the medical model and the pharmaceutical industry go together like peanuts and toxic shock,” and even as he demonstrates how to subdue an agitated patient, his tone of gentle respect is moving. That said, a lot of the comedy here comes from the sheer weirdness of mental illness: he invites us to laugh at a schizophrenic patient’s hallucination of foul-mouthed Asians on stilts, for instance. Laughter can make scary stuff easier to bear. Still, Gee’s description of a horrific self-mutilation feels exploitative—like an action sequence devoid of depth. Buoyancy is great. So is balance.
At the Waterfront Theatre on September 12 (7:45 p.m.), 14 (8:35 p.m.), 15 (5:15 p.m.), 17 (12:25 p.m.), and 18 (8:55 p.m.)