The Shape of the Pain , a Fringe First award-winning show about trying to communicate something unknowable, where writer Chris Thorpe weaves together director Rachel Bagshaw’s personal experiences of living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) with a fictional narrative about a love affair. Using sound, light and video alongside fully integrated captioning and audio description, The Shape of the Pain attempts to explain what Rachel’s chronic pain sounds like, looks like and feels like. The production was made in consultation with Rachel’s doctor, a consultant in pain at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, as well as other clinical professionals, and debuted at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017.

The Shape of the Pain follows a woman who attempts to express the physical pain that she lives with day in and day out. When she meets someone new, they have to learn how to navigate life, love and the pain together. Pain is notoriously tricky for doctors to analyse, requiring patients to give subjective reports of what they feel, and how much; The Shape of the Pain asks whether others can ever really understand our pain. Performed by Hannah McPake in a duet with Melanie Wilson’s extraordinary sound design, Bagshaw and Thorpe explore the concept of never-ending pain and the unexpected joy that can be found whilst living with it.

Rachel Bagshaw said: “The Shape of the Pain is a unique experience for an audience, as they gradually become immersed in the extra-sensory world which I experience with my condition. The show feels hugely important as we endeavour to engage with how we talk about pain, and how the shadows it can create also let in colour and light. Using creative access as part of the aesthetic also opens the show up to all audiences”.

The Shape of the Pain is at Battersea Arts Centre 20th February – 10th March 2018.

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