Give Me Your Love

  • Drama
  • Writers, directors and cast: David Woods and Jon Haynes
  • Summerhall, Edinburgh
  • Until 27 August 2017
  • Review by Nicholas Potter
  • 24 August 2017
Give Me Your Love
4.0Reviewer's Rating

Give Me Your Love is a Beckettian play about PTSD. It has an early start and a weighty theme, which is a lot to take in at breakfast time, but it is worthwhile attending given the calibre of the writing; it’s like having pungent ammonia salts accompany your morning coffee – you’ll go from sleepy to alert in no time at all.

Zach (David Woods) has been scarred by his experience as a soldier in the Middle East. He has taken his isolation to the extreme by covering his head with a box; the kitchen he has sequestered himself in is rather drab and neglected. Zach’s only company is the occasional voice at the door, which he has locked with a chain, since he fears people entering his safe space.

The people that visit Zach are his wife Carol and his friend Ieuan (both played by Jon Haynes) who attempt to coax Zach out of his cardboard cage. The scrabbling for the door chain and the drum-like banging on the wall tortures Zach by initiating flashbacks. In moments of distress Zach retreats to the corner of the room, or tries to drown out the noises of the outside world. This is a picture of a haunted veteran who cannot reintegrate into normal society. The details of his time fighting are elusive, but it seems like nothing actually happened to him. However, this in itself was damaging enough. Perhaps Zach’s identity relied on the expectation of conflict, so when this did not materialise he lost his ability to function with a purpose.

Ieuan promises Zach a way out with ecstasy tablets. Using a psychoactive substance is part of a drug therapy idea – anything to bring Zach out of his darkness. Ieuan leaves and returns with the goods, which are delivered to Zach on a flimsy winch system. The drugs seem to help: Zach decides to listen to some old tunes on his phone as the ecstasy kicks in. The euphoria is peppered by short interactions between Zach and Carol, although Zach cannot bring himself to exit the room and spend time with his wife; it will take more than pill popping to achieve full rehabilitation.

Give Me Your Love features an incessantly back-and-forth kind of dialogue. Moments of dreamy hopefulness are undercut by blindness and refusal. There is a certain impotence in Zach that makes him unable to commit to improving his situation. It seems that he that Zach’s claustrophobia extends to a fear of the germs outside his kitchen. This is ironic, given that his drab fluorescent-lit room is probably the dirtiest place imaginable, but Zach subscribes to the idea that what you can’t see can’t hurt you.

Give Me Your Love is a very insightful and powerful look at PTSD and how sufferers segregate themselves for protection. Zach never manages to lift the box from his head as he remains in the fathoms of self-imposed exile. Narcotic exhilaration rouses Zach out of his dejected state briefly, yet this leaves him on the edge of an emotional climax; the blaring sounds plaguing Zach’s mind are tough demons to overcome.

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