My Shrinking Life (3 stars)

Disordered and impressionistic journey through multiple sclerosis diagnosis

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My Shrinking Life

Photo: Andy Ross

The stage is vaguely medical, institutional and scuffed. Behind a curtained window we peep into a glamorous dressing room. Alison Peebles was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001 and My Shrinking Life is a theatrical account of what one of the other characters calls, at one toe-curling point, her ‘little naughty nervous system disorder’.

In the hands of Marmite Belgian director Lies Pauwels, this is jump-cut, disordered, impressionistic; the very opposite of the consciousness-raising issue-based community piece. The ghastly practicalities, the patronising, the constant, grating offers of help, are almost thrown away in favour of a more existential approach.

Three gorgeous, lithe, young actors and a little girl represent Peebles at earlier stages of her life. She is a constant presence, sometimes grumpy, sometimes bored, watching their histrionics with eyebrows raised.

A wheelchair waiting ominously in the corner represents the next stage, the high heels she can no longer wear are the past. Sadly, there is no happy ending.

Touring Scotland until Sat 6 Oct. Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 12 Sep.

Backstage: My Shrinking Life - in rehearsal

My Shrinking Life

Actor, director and film/theatre maker Alison Peebles tells of the emotional and physical journey she has been on since first being 'unofficially' diagnosed with MS 12 years ago. Part of Luminate.

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