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By John Hoggett

ISBN: 978-1-84747-577-0
Published: 2008
Pages: 35
Key Themes: play script, day centre, satire, mental health system, comedy, social commentary


Mental is a short play of about 45 minutes in length set in a mental health day centre. It is a farce that looks at the failures of psychiatry and the oddities of mental distress. The play has three characters that are users of the day centre. It questions many of the assumptions of mental health and whether it should be considered a health problem at all, as opposed to a problem of living caused by individual responses to societal pressures.

The characters also take on other roles such as bored/naughty school children and a harassed teacher, a GP, the Prime Ministers psychiatrist.

The play includes rants, comedy, slapstick humour, a banner, an activist talking to the audience directly and occasional audience interaction. Near the end of the play the users of the day centre offer psychiatric drugs and ECT to the audience as if they were ecstasy or some other party drugs.

Humorous and iconoclastic the play provokes questions on many aspects of the mental health system in early 21st Century Britain.

About the Author

John Hoggett has lived in Reading for nearly thirty years, has historical links to the artistic elite of the country and is immensely talented. He started out as a young hippy, working on organic farms, cooking bread and getting into the groove (man). John later became an Anarcho-Eco-Activist and was inspirational, in a small way, in the Newbury Anti-bypass campaign of the 1990’s. He mixed this Earth Lover action with a penchant for performing in drag and flirting outrageously with cabaret audiences. His father once tried to strangle his stepmother and John has found his family “difficult.” This makes his writing an interesting mix: personal, piquant, political, smutty in places, and at times lyrical. He grippingly tells the stories that obsess him and enthrals us at the same time. He immodestly once said of himself that he was the mongrel child of Julie Burchill and Quentin Crisp. Dear reader, you decide.

Book Extract

Suzannah: You’re a bit of a liability, aren’t you John.

Mark:I’ll say, I don’t know why they let him in here.

John:Yes Mark. Now I met you in the café in the day centre a few weeks ago. Hadn’t seen you for years, and I said, “How are you,” and you said:


Mark looks at John glumly during this conversation and then looks at the dominos, not engaging with John.
Suzannah looks at the dominos and then at Mark, smiles as if to say, “You’ve got a right one here,” and then looks at the dominoes again.

John:Can we run that conversation again? Cause you really looked rubbish – now some people don’t really like that reflective counselling shit, but darling, you looked rubbish, you looked like you wanted to burst into tears and I didn’t like to say anything, which is a bit rubbish itself. And I’m sorry, because I like the tall, slightly posh, thin boys.

Mark:Bet you say that to all the boys.

Suzannah: Too right! I’ve seen him at the corner shop, eyeing up the staff as he buys his Guardian.

Mark:What, Mr Chaudrey? He’s old enough to be your father.

Suzannah: No, his jail bait son, Iftakar.

John:I’ll have you know Iffy is well above the age of consent, and perfectly charming too, as he slips his shrink wrapped colour supplement into my crisp, fresh Sunday Observer.

Mark:Oo-er missus!

John:At least you know where you are with the heterosexual ones. I don’t think I’m assuming too much there? Why don’t you come round to my place Mark and tell me all about it, love. I mean, it’s not as if you’re not going to cry on my shoulder.

Suzannah: You can’t have everything!

John:to audience

Now, I have an important question for everyone. What would you be doing if you were not here?

Mark:I would be sitting at home seething and worrying, it’s just one of those things.

John:to audience
Are there any depressives here? I’ll probably offend you, I usually do.

Mark and Suzannah look at the dominos.

John:Manic-depressives, they’re a funny lot! Or not. I mean, how many times have I met someone with a diagnosis of manic depression, (he raises his voice and emphasises “Controlled by medication”) controlled by medication, and they are really boring. Either that diagnosis was wrong or those drugs are really effective.



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