Hysterical, by Koi Collective
Heart of Hawick

WHAT makes someone mad – this is the question put to audiences of Hysterical.

This ingenious play from Koi Collective, directed by Grace Baker, and written by Sally MacAlister, took to the Heart of Hawick stage in the lead up to Christmas (following its Borders debut in Melrose in October).

For the women of Hysterical madness is their brand.

Welcome Catherine (Zoe Kinniburgh), Mercy (Evie Mortimer), Augustine (Georgia Lee Roberts), Celia (Zara Kennedy), Ann (Robyn Reilly), and Jenny (Baker) – our heroines.

All dubbed as mad in some way.

The play takes a long hard look at why in the past and in our present we can be so quick to dismiss women.

Border Telegraph:  (Image: Koi Collective)

These women, portrayed beautifully with a great deal of compassion, show that the lines between our past, present, and future are still so blurred.

Hysterical, sits perfectly in this blurred space.

As the play progresses through persecution, abandonment, manipulation and loss, it's hard not to become introspective.

Not only were the harrowing stories moving – of false accusations, mistreatment and misinformation – the incredible acting on the Hawick stage struck a real chord.

Holding back tears at times was a struggle.

Now, this isn't to say that this tale is without its joyful moments.

The audience gets to share in Catherine's joy at finding new worlds in books, Mercy's delight in singing, Augustine's sense of freedom (and most importantly her impression of a pigeon), Celia's lustful fantasies of soldier Elijah, and Ann's love for her husband.

But sadly, Hysterical is not a fairytale.

It's not until the end of the play that we officially meet Jenny, and come to understand her need to learn from these five women from the past.

Jenny is just like the audience, she had hoped to stay on the sidelines – that was until the women of Hysterical took things into their own hands.

While the misdiagnosis of hysteria may have been used to oppress and silence women, the women of Hysterical have declared they will no longer stay silent.

Their stories must be heard.

Although Hysterical's run in the Borders is over for now, Koi Collective have shared that the play will be making a return for audiences in Edinburgh this year.

And while there is no Borders returns on the cards just yet, it is well worth a trip to Edinburgh to see this insightful and tragic comedy.

For more information on Koi Collective and the group's next performances, visit their Facebook page.

Hysterical was commissioned by Live Borders for the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.