Stroud-based writer and performer Helen Wood is taking her darkly comic new play Let’s Talk About Philip to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.
After her mother’s funeral, Helen’s father suddenly said: “let’s talk about Philip.” It was the first time anyone in her family had spoken about her brother since his suicide, 32 years previously. In this candid and gripping new play, we are taken on a quest into the Wood family’s history to discover some hidden truths behind her brother’s death and the conspiracy of silence that surrounded them.
Along with actor and co-writer Gregor Hunt, Helen uses theatre to allow us to meet Philip ourselves and to ask the questions that can never really be answered. Prompted by her father finally speaking out, Helen embarked on a voyage of discovery to learn more about the circumstances of her brother’s suicide. But, as she starts to dig, she uncovers more and more surprising details and discovers that there may be more to the narrative she’s always held to be true. What are the consequences of bringing a buried story to life after 32 years and why did everyone remain silent for so long?
Suicide is something that has touched many people, including Helen’s co-writer Gregor and director Derek Bond (2022 Olivier Award Nominee, Dragons & Mythical Beasts); in 2020, nearly 5,000 suicides were registered in England alone. Bond skilfully realises this intriguing and important play, filled with humour and absurdism, alongside moments of poignancy around the importance of talking.
Helen Wood said: “Philip’s death has been a major part of my life and, as a storyteller and performer, I wanted to tell my story through theatre and honour my brother’s memory. This has proved to be hugely cathartic, and I hope that by sharing our story others may be encouraged to talk more about difficult issues.”
Let’s Talk About Philip will support and work with Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, the only national charity providing peer support to those impacted by suicide loss. They offer peer led support groups, online virtual support groups, a national telephone helpline, online community forum and email support. All are open to all those affected by a suicide loss, aged 18 years and over and are free of charge. For more information see, https://uksobs.org/.