‘Once upon a time… I don’t have time!’

Award-winning writer and performer Skye Loneragan brings her fragmented portrayal of motherhood, sisterhood and experience of loved ones debilitating mental illness to venues across Scotland in 2022. Photograph Stewart Ennis

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‘A babes in arms show, made for time-poor adults,’ is coming to Mull Theatre on July 14, ending its unique slow tour around Scotland.

The show, Though This Be Madness, sees a mother, bouncing on a ball in her lounge, desperately trying to finish her sentence and train of thought while also caring for a wee one. It explores themes of mental health – in ourselves, our family and in Shakespeare’s heroines – motherhood and that feeling of being just too busy.

Combining her artistic practice with her role as a mother in the way that best works for her, award-winning writer and performer Skye Loneragan has been touring her show, since early 2022, with only a few performances per month, allowing her to also spend time at home with her family.

Not all stories wrap themselves around a beginning, a middle and an end. New motherhood doesn’t afford the time for that kind of structure. Though This Be Madness is an inventive and darkly humorous story of many sisters that delves into the combined challenges of new parenting alongside loved ones wrestling psychosis and depression.

In this fractured fiction told through poetry and performance, we are introduced to a recovering mum bouncing on a Pilates ball in The Land of the Lounge Room, trying desperately to soothe her baby so she can finish her sentence and tell us this tale.

Unable to reach her sister Ophelia, who wrestles with a cataract on what Shakespeare calls the ‘mind’s eye’, she attempts to ‘stay on the ball’. Wondering what delusions we might all share, she questions the silent war many of us are waging – with little ones, with loss or with prams that don’t fold easily.

Skye Loneragan said: ‘Though This Be Madness came about because I spent way too long on a bounce ball with a beautiful screaming baby and couldn’t tell the tale I had begun to write, or the one I was experiencing – postnatal and sleep deprived… and trying to piece together what was happening to my sisters, my mother, and those around me. So many loved ones are dealing with debilitating mental illnesses and I felt there should be a space to share the fall-out from that.

‘This story is born of real experiences, but I don’t seek to represent them as universal. How we see things, how we grasp what we’ve been through and how we communicate that to one another is wholly unique. With Though This Be Madness I hope to connect with people who will wonder along with me what madness we all play out day to day.