Stage set to Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Perhaps I ought to fess up from the start – I am a child of the 60s (no dates given!).
Flower power, The Beatles, free love, The Rolling Stones, Woodstock and Pink Floyd all coloured my formative years (my very YOUNG formative years).
So to sit in Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree last night and hear Pink Floyd, the music of my youth, as a backdrop to new play, was a joy.
But it would be facile to say that the latest in the A Play, A Pie and A Pint series – One Thinks Of It All As A Dream – is simply a joy; far from it, the play is unexpected, uncomfortable, complex, witty and sad.
By playwright Alan Bissett and directed by Sacha Kyle, the new work is about Pink Floyd’s doomed genius, frontman and founding member Syd Barrett.
It is set in 1967, when the band had just released their debut album, the psychedelic masterpiece Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Syd’s behaviour is becoming more and more bizarre as he copes with drugs, adulation, delusion and fame.
Back then perhaps he was dismissed as a psycho, weird or a druggie. I would like to think that more than 40 odd years on, the public understanding of mental health issues is much improved but I am not entirely convinced.
The audience witnesses the disintegration of a musical genius and professional success to the point where he is squeezed out of the band he inspired and helped set up. And the psychologist in the piece asks the telling question: “How do you know it's Syd who has the problem?”
The singer, songwriter, and painter, who quit the music industry in 1970 – just two years after leaving Pink Floyd – died in 2006, at the age of 60.
The band went on to produce The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, which became two of the best-selling albums of all time, followed by two decades of acrimony and creative tension.
The four-strong cast of One Thinks Of It All As A Dream is headed by Euan Cuthbertson who gives an excellent performance as the desperate and vulnerable Syd racing towards an emotional crisis he can neither anticipate or understand.
He is superbly supported on stage by Andrew John Tait, Ewan Petrie and David James Kirkwood as fellow band members Roger, Richard and Nick.
The play was specially commissioned for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and is presented in association with Traverse Theatre and Aberdeen Performing Arts.
And it runs at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree until Saturday, with Thursday and Saturday matinees.
The next in the A Play, A Pie and A Pint series, Moving Pictures by Phillip Differ, opens on Tuesday, November 29, and tells the story of a film fan who finds himself caught up in a series of movie homages that threaten his sanity and, more importantly, his pay packet.
One Thinks Of It All As A Dream tells the story of Pink Floyd’s doomed genius, frontman and founding member Syd Barrett