Life and times of a Sunnyboy

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS - – SUZANNE SIMONOT

DI­REC­TOR Kaye Har­ri­son’s doc­u­men­tary The Sunnyboy shows men­tal ill­ness hasn’t ex­tin­guished singer, song­writer, gui­tarist and painter Jeremy Ox­ley’s un­de­ni­able charisma.

That charisma helped Ox­ley stand out from the mu­si­cal pack as the young front­man of great 1980s Aus­tralian band, Sun­ny­boys. It now makes him a com­pelling and in­spi­ra­tional sub­ject.

Har­ri­son chal­lenges the stigma as­so­ci­ated with schizophre­nia by shar­ing Ox­ley’s lived ex­pe­ri­ence of men­tal ill­ness. The re­sults serve as a tes­ta­ment to the heal­ing pow­ers of mu­sic and com­pan­ion­ship.

Ox­ley was di­ag­nosed with schizophre­nia, a con­di­tion not usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with hope and pos­i­tive out­comes, in 1984.

He self-med­i­cated with al­co­hol binges for years, but turned a cor­ner five years ago when he met Mary Grif­fiths through mu­tual friends. The cou­ple mar­ried in 2011. Grif­fiths, a nurse, worked with Ox­ley and his doc­tors to find the right for­mula to man­age his health is­sues.

Har­ri­son’s film charts Ox­ley’s re­turn to the fold on sev­eral fronts – health, fam­ily and mu­sic.

The heal­ing in­flu­ence his wife had on his health may be at the film’s heart, but

The Sunnyboy does not sug­gest love cures all. In­stead, it shows how treat­ment and a loving en­vi­ron­ment helped Ox­ley ac­cept – or at least man­age – di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment.

The film hints at, rather than dwells on, the dark stuff. Scenes re­veal­ing Ox­ley’s pain, his fam­ily’s de­spair and ob­sta­cles en­coun­tered by his wife are punc­tu­ated by belly laughs and pearlers, de­lib­er­ate and ac­ci­den­tal, which fall from the lips of Ox­ley at his whip-smart best.

Har­ri­son never de­monises schizophre­nia, and this is one rea­son

The Sunnyboy is so im­por­tant. It may help turn the tide as Ox­ley’s story en­cour­ages oth­ers liv­ing with the con­di­tion to share their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Fans of the band Sun­ny­boys will find this film es­sen­tial, re­ward­ing view­ing.

Two years in the mak­ing, it pre­miered at the Syd­ney Opera House in June as part of Vivid Fes­ti­val, screened at the Syd­ney and Melbourne In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­vals and played for a new gen­er­a­tion of fans as part of the Fo­rum pro­gram at Splen­dour in the Grass.

An­chored by Ox­ley’s charisma, Har­ri­son hopes the film helps peo­ple bet­ter un­der­stand schizophre­nia and boosts the self-es­teem of those liv­ing with men­tal ill­ness.

The Sunnyboy screens to­mor­row and Satur­day at 6.30pm and 9pm and Au­gust 24 at 6.30pm and 9pm at Birch Car­roll & Coyle, Coolan­gatta. Call 5536 9300 or book on­line. The Sunnyboy also screens at Star Court, Lis­more, on Sun­day and Au­gust 23.

Jeremy Ox­ley with his wife, Mary Grif­fiths Ox­ley (above) and with di­rec­tor Kaye Har­ri­son (left).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.