This weekend Amplify Theatre, a new and up-and-coming amateur theatre group based in Norwich, will put on their first production of the year: the double bill ‘Breathing Corpses’ by Laura Wade and ‘Tommy’ by Sebastian Garbacz, both plays discussing male suicide.

The project, which will be showcased at the Theatre Royal’s Stage Two, intends to break down the stigma surrounding male mental health and male suicide, in two plays that promises to be heart-breaking, moving and thought-provoking. Statistics highlight that men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women: of the 251 people that killed themselves in Norfolk between 2015 and 2017, 187 of them were men.

Artistic Director of Amplify Theatre, Izzy Cutler, outlines the intention of the evening of theatre by stating, “What we really hope to achieve is to start a conversation within the community about male mental health and suicide. We want to break down the stigma and encourage people to seek help when needed and be unafraid to speak out. Theatre is a perfect medium in which to open minds and achieve that.” Male mental health, generally speaking, is under-represented in society, and projects like this are beneficial for giving it the attention that the topic needs. The plays draw attention to and fight against these taboos in what will be very harrowing and impactful pieces of theatre, working in conjunction to achieve the aims that Amplify has outlined.

‘Breathing Corpses’, written by Laura Wade in 2005, follows the lead up to the suicide of Jim, who is found dead at the beginning of the play. The events that build up to his suicide are explored. Tara Woodley, one of the actresses involved in ‘Breathing Corpses’, describes the piece as “an insight into a series of people’s lives, which all tragically interlock.” Having either seen or worked with a few of the actors in the show, I am hopeful that it will be as impactful as I am anticipating given the talent onstage.

‘Tommy’, written by UEA student Sebastian Garbacz, was performed earlier in the academic year at the Minotaur Shorts Festival, and was a huge hit, so much so that Amplify picked it up for their first production. Garbacz, a well-known, talented writer in the drama department, documents the story of Tommy, a complicated, disconnected individual struggling to deal with his emotions and relationships.

Amplify have set themselves up very nicely for the coming months in Norwich, and this production, given the subject matter and publicity it has received, should secure their place on the map of Norwich theatre companies. I really look forward to watching the production, and I am heavily anticipating watching Amplify progress as a company.

The double bill Breathing Corpses and Tommy will play at the Norwich Theatre Royal’s Stage Two on March 1-2 at 7pm.


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