Last Saturday at 7 pm the curtain opened on the play, “Divine Lunacy”, a musical comedy about a man named Davy, a past psych patient, who goes off his medication to be more creative.
This play presents a message about mental illness which takes it out of the shadows and offers the opportunity to consider it a new way. As a reviewer, I found it beautiful not only because of the great acting, the props, or the story itself, but because of the message it gives to anyone suffering from a mental illness.
After all of the actors had a chance to greet their fans I interviewed each of them about the Divine Lunacy’s message.
David Gabriel, one of the actors who played the role of Joseph or JoJo in the play described in his own words what Divine Lunacy’s message is, “Mental illness happens to everyone. We need to stop shaming others for what happens to all of us.”
Mental illness happens to everyone. Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, EdM, who is a board certified counselor, therapist, and clinician for over 25 years supports the actors theory, “Regrettably, somewhere along the line shadow syndromes have become disorders. What is poor executive functioning has become ADD/ADHD. What was once ‘high strung’ has become Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What was once a dissipation of sexual attraction for one’s partner has become Sexual Desire Disorder. My point is this – everyone’s a little crazy. No one falls at zero on the bell curve. There is no such thing as normal.”
Rose Passione, an actress in the show who played the character Ann, said: “The show, to me, is about the process of accepting what you have and dealing with it instead of being ashamed about it.”
Acceptance goes back a long way. History is foot noted by figures who had profound impact who were considered crazy or at the very least, pretty weird. For example, according to math.tamu.edu, Pythagoras, due to the fact he created a religion that forbade anyone to eat beans, was considered “crazy” in his time.
Also, Stonewall Jackson, a confederate officer in the Civil War had a quirk that people didn’t quite understand. According Rebecca Beatrice, author of History of Massachusetts, Civil War Saga, and Civil War Days, Stonewall Jackson believed he needed to raise his longer arm high in the air for better circulation. Because of this, many considered him “crazy.”
Nathan Monks who acts in “Divine Lunacy” himself admits to being closer to the subject than most, “I have personal experience with mental illnesses. I spent time in a psych ward for depression. I can really say that the message of this show hits home with me a personal level.”
What motivates these people to act in this difficult and challenging play?
Gabriel, after smiling big, said, “A compulsion.”
Passione spoke for all when she expressed, “I can’t not do it.” In response to this, all the other members of the cast nodded in agreement.
The passion and work ethic of these actors and actresses is shown very clearly in “Divine Lunacy” as I experienced it in the audience. After interviewing each of them, their chemistry seemed real. I don’t know if this was because they were simply incredible actors, or if it because I was witnessing a real relationship they’ve developed in the making of this show. In any case, I believe this play is worth seeing for more reasons than one.