People, Places & Things, Theatre Roal Bath until Saturday

Addiction is a personal thing, it takes everyone differently – some self medicate, lonely with red wine, others take it a step further. They’re all trying to do one thing, fill a big hole inside.

Of course, this topic has fascinated artists and writers for decades, so what is so special about People, Places & Things?

Emma is an actress, who has a breakdown during rehearsals for a performance of The Seagull. She checks into an unnamed facility, where addicts opt for treatment through ‘The Process’ (which is eerily similar to the steps of Alcholics Anonymous).

It starts with her giving a false name ‘Nina’, and before long a complete cavalcade of lies ensues. She is a character, and her entire past is a stage – assembled to her needs and at her leisure.

This notion of constantly ‘performing’ is reinforced by some truly imaginative staging. The audience looks out on to the stage, but then on the other side of the stage sits another audience, also looking out.

Walls are sterile and tiled, but conceal doors and beds, all the while an ‘EXIT’ sign looms in the background.

A standout moment comes when Emma, in the throes of withdrawal, experiences powerful hallucinations. It must be seen to be believed.

People, Places & Things is emotionally literate, wise and never judgemental, but what sets it apart is the journey of our unreliable narrator. From the addict’s view, always on show in a world of interchangeable faces, we get a glimpse of real fear and confusion, but also of a primal abandon.

Lisa Dwyer-Hogg is a revelation as Emma, giving a powerhouse of a performance that sears the senses. Mention must be given as well to Trevor Fox, and to the superlative direction of Holly Race Roughan.

A tour-de-force of a production which subverts and exceeds all expectations. - Sean Cameron