Content Warning: This films covers the themes of bipolar disorder, breakdown and distress.
Available November 1 – November 7
In Living with The Lights On, Mark Lockyer tells the gripping true story of how he met the Devil while performing in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Romeo and Juliet. The experience resulted in a terrifying journey through the medical and criminal justice systems, through prison and hospital and on towards eventual recovery.
Originally an acclaimed solo theatre show, Living with the Lights On was reimagined as a film during this year’s lockdown by Lockyer and director Geraldine Williams, and premiered in May as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival’s online programme.
Mark Lockyer says: “The stage version of Living with The Lights On has no set. If anything, I tell the story in a space with a few bits of ‘stuff’ that might be hanging about in the theatre on the day. It’s because ‘the story’ is the only thing that matters. Also, it’s just me performing. And so, the same is true of the film. I play everyone. All 36 characters if you include the one -liner cameos.
“The beauty of the film is that the madness, colour and surreal nature of my illness can be brought to life visually. I employed the services of artist and maker Geraldine Williams who directed and edited the film. Geraldine brought ideas to the scenes visually I could never have imagined. But in the edit Geraldine was able to weave wonderful magic. We pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with very little. It is a visual feast. Some scenes are not literal at all. They are deliberately set against ‘reality’ because time and reality didn’t always marry in the depths of my illness.
“We shot it on an iPhone because the aesthetic is beautifully cheap and wonderfully simple and honest. No gimmicks, just like the stage show. Honest, raw, visceral, inventive, imaginative, shocking but above all funny. I laugh at myself endlessly. I have been an actor for many years and have been blessed to have been involved with some great projects but this film for a myriad of reasons is the best piece of work I have ever made. It is beautifully simple, and I hope it can inspire others that even on a shoestring ANYTHING is possible if you have the vision and desire. I hope you enjoy it.”
Living With The Lights On is a testament to the fact that mental illness can happen to anyone and that, with the right treatment, there can be a life beyond it. The film version recently received a five star review from Scotland’s leading theatre critic, Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman, who wrote: “Living with the Lights On is a superb example of what can be achieved by a brilliant writer-performer with a smartphone, plus an excellent director and editor in creating a shocking inner journey through mental breakdown that is also a strange, disturbing visual feast, full of surreal moments and brilliant thumbnail caricatures. The film’s ending, as Lockyer finally reaches a degree of peace with himself, and learns, after all, to value as precious the life he once saw as utterly worthless, is profoundly moving; and Lockyer has produced a film that represents an outstanding contribution both to this year’s online SMHAF festival, and to the wider emerging world of art and performance created in lockdown, during this rare moment of reflection and disruption.”