MS Is My Boyfriend is a wry look at what life with a chronic illness is really like. Because, what happens when your body breaks up with you? No explanation, no status update.
You’ve heard all of the usual platitudes, like “stay positive” and “you’ll get through it”. But can’t we just admit that multiple sclerosis is a bit shit, actually?
In 2016, we completed our first research and development phase for the show, which included residencies at the ExCeL in London, and at Live Theatre in Newcastle. We conducted focus groups, and worked with the MS Society, and MS specialists from the University of Birmingham and Brunel University.
In 2017, we began a second R & D phase, to prepare an excerpt of the show for performance at PULSE Festival in Ipswich, as part of their Suitcase Prize. We worked with director Anna Ryder to develop the material, with a view to touring in 2018.
Both R & D phases have been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
THE MEET CUTE
An instant paralysis. The tiniest flutter on the skin of your right arm. Electric shock when you bend your neck. The loss of sight in one eye. There’s a tremor in your hand. You’re so fucking tired, the pavement’s as attractive as Brad Pitt’s bed, maybe more so honestly, and you figure, once you’re flat, your brain’s going to thank you. Forget getting up again, and get used to public embarrassment. The doctors will send for tests, but nothing comprehensive enough to diagnose what you’ve got. There’ll be a lot of fobbing off. Implications of laziness. You need to exercise. Post-viral fatigue takes time. Perhaps it’s depression, we could medicate you for that. Friends suggest they’re tired too, you’re basically moaning about nothing. When you don’t want to go on a family walk, eyes roll. This limbo, of “it’s in your mind” or “come back in three weeks if it’s not better” or “go home and see”, is like the episode of Friends they show on TV way more times than all the others. That one in which Ross says “pivot”.