THEATRE REVIEW: First-hand reflection of a paralysing loss of nerves

Adam Pownall who brought his unique theatre performance,  Getting Better Slowly, to South Holland Centre, Spalding.

Adam Pownall who brought his unique theatre performance, Getting Better Slowly, to South Holland Centre, Spalding.

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Getting Better Slowly, Adam Pownall and Kitty Randle, South Holland Centre, Spalding

What would you do if you woke up and found your body slowly shutting down?

That was the thought-provoking setting for Adam Pownall’s very personal portrayal of the devastating effects of the little-known condition Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

At its simplest, GBS sees the body’s immune system attack part of the nervous system, causing pain, numbness, progressive muscle weakness and, long-term, the nightmare of not being able to walk unaided.

The show itself casts Adam, who described the experience of having GBS as “When Life Went Limp” and Kitty, in the world of the utter helplessness and bloody-mindedness of the condition itself and Adam’s two-year rehabilitation back to health.

Some of the sound, movement and light techniques used in Getting Better Slowly might be transporting themselves into a production by Act II Theatre Company, a number of whom had the chance to work with Adam and Kitty at a pre-production workshop.

I was totally aware in my mind, even though my body wasn’t functioning, I could still think, feel and need, but had no way to express it - I was locked in

Adam Pownall, Getting Better Slowly

If your taste is for escapist entertainment, this was the wrong place to be.

But then there is no escape from life itself and Adam Pownall’s GBS project pulled no punches.

Review by Winston Brown