How does a one-woman play about mental illness and suicide begin?...By asking for help.

Alys Williams stands bravely before the audience as herself, to announce that this is her story, and she will need some help to tell it. Throughout the course of the play, she invites audience members on to the stage to act as the postman, her sister or even her partner. This inevitably could strike fear into the heart of many members of the British public; however, Williams achieves this level of participation effortlessly due to her warm nature, reassuring tone, and impeccable comic timing.

Alys introduces her best friend Nathan to us through anecdotal memories, depicting him as silly and playful, once sending her a signed photo of himself in the post. Their love story is heart-warming and as the audience we only want good things for them, which makes our hearts break further when we discover, in real time with Alys, that Nathan almost took his own life, yet was found and saved just in time by paramedics on a bridge.

The metaphor of ‘the lighthouse’ and the protocol of what to do in the event of ‘man overboard’ underscores the whole play with shouting, whistle blowing and throwing of lifelines. Alys’ performance and the use of sound brings a sense of urgency and panic to the surface. It mirrors how one might feel if their partner was suddenly in a mental health crisis but also highlights how there is not a simple set of instructions to follow in the event of them wanting to be overboard.

Sound and props are used excellently, allowing the stage to transform from a stressful ship to the cosy flat in Dublin where Alys lived and cared for Nathan. William’s writing and performance tenderly depicts the beautifully ordinary moments in life and how they can suddenly hold so much meaning when the person that matters most to you is struggling to stay afloat.

The Lighthouse shines a much-needed light on the stigmatized topic of mental illness and suicide. Williams teaches us how to be strong by being vulnerable, how to love when clouded by darkness and offers us the most important lifeline of all – hope.