New play from Devon-based writer brings to the stage the reality of living with postnatal depression

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Three days into motherhood, Rachel doesn’t recognise herself. There’s nothing Sam won’t do to keep his family together, but how do you beat an enemy you can’t see? Friction is a visceral and inspiring story of hard-won recovery and the resilience couples find when their world is falling apart.

Inspired by a series of unflinching interviews with couples that have come through postnatal depression, Friction is a challenging piece of new writing from Devon-based Cally Hayes (Documental Theatre) directed by Kevin Johnson (Symbiotic Theatre).

The play has been written by Cally Hayes who works as a Perinatal Mental Health nurse in Devon. Cally is also co-founder, along with fellow writer Lucy Bell, of Documental, a Devon-based theatre-making collective.

Through her role on the Perinatal Mental Health team, Cally was asked to create a new piece of forum theatre for a South West mental health conference developed from interviews with people with lived experienced of postnatal depression. Cally has since developed the piece with Symbiotic for mainstream theatre. This second phase of the play has involved interviewing more couples who have recovered from postnatal illness to further develop the story.


Cally Hayes told ArtsCulture: “Good antenatal care has almost eliminated the life threatening conditions of pregnancy and childbirth but what is still so shocking is that suicide is the biggest cause of maternal death.

“This is an illness that can be treated and women do make a full recovery with the right treatment and support. As a company Documental are committed to telling this story as often as we can to campaign for better recognition of this illness.

“But more importantly, we want to tell the story that celebrates the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit to come through an experience that nearly tears your world apart at a time when you should be happy.”

Dramaturg David Lane said: “Cally Hayes is an innovator and a writer of great integrity. This piece shows sensitivity and adventure in equal measure.”

In association with Symbiotic Theatre, the original conference piece was created with financial support from Devon Partnership Trust.

• Friction is part of the Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest on Saturday, June 27 at 1.3pm and 9.45pm; and Sunday, June 28, 2015 at 2.30pm

Go to the Documental Theatre website or the Symbiotic Theatre website for more about them, or follow them on Twitter@documentaltheatr and @symbioticthtr

Read a review of Friction on our PRSD site.