'I don't know what the hell I'm doing to tell you the truth'
Photo: James Royall
Thursday 10th December, 2009 | Posted by Anonymous
Last Friday, Nicholas Wright and Helen Taylor Robinson elucidated the complex relationship between theatre and psychoanalysis. As a psychoanalyst with a strong literary background, Taylor Robinson was able to discuss the impact of this relationship on Wright's Mrs Klein. Theatrical writing, form and performance can all be seen as transgressive. Both theatre and psychoanalysis tend to privilege the unconscious over the conscious. Such primitive pushes for the flaunting of moral codes and cultivation of taboos.
Wright talked freely about his process of composition and revealed that the life of his works is much bigger than what ends up on the page. This is obviously so in the case of variances such as accent that occur during production, but also in the way it lives in Wright's mind. Both Wright and Taylor Robinson have a lasting fascination with Melanie Klein, and a sense of immediacy was obtained by discussing her work and Wright's interpretation of her within her old workplace, the Institute of Psychoanalysis. The fact that Wright's internal reality of the play is a good deal larger than the play itself gave the play a real sense of mystery. The 'nuts and bolts' of writing was, however, also adressed. The mechanics of plot and the interplay of character are logically made more complicated by including three protagonists instead of two. Such simple but telling facts are the result of the lengthy span of Wright's accomplished career.
Helen Taylor Robinson and audience questions pushed the conversation towards the notion of personal release in writing. Wright's own life shares with both Mrs Klein and Vincent in Brixton conceit of the replacement child. Clearly, personal experience and knowledge lend Wright's work the sensitivity and authenticity they display.
As ever with works that are staged, different productions flare up different aspects. What proved really intriguing were the varied interpretations offered by members of the audience, some of who were psychoanalysts. This helped shed light on the lasting interest there is in Mrs Klein; it grows, changes shape and plays with out understanding of Melanie Klein's personal and professional lives.
Click here to read my review of Mrs Klein at the Almeida, November 2009, for Science is a Lie: http://scienceisalie.blogspot.com/2009/12/performance-review-mrs-klein.html