After a critically acclaimed run at VAULT Festival, the OFFIE and VAULT Festival Award-nominated Scratches is heading to the Arcola Theatre this November. This raw, brutally honest new play aims to spark conversations around self-harm and mental illness through cabaret, humour and heaps of confetti! A celebration of survival and friendship, of youth and recovery, Scratches is a story of the events that shape us, told with riotous humour, dance moves and a glitter curtain.
Meet GIRL. For too long, she’s been hiding her scratches with unfashionably long socks, clever white lies and period pads. But now she and her fabulous BEST FRIEND are here to set the record straight. Based on the writer’s own experiences, this confessional and self-deprecating comedy seeks to address self-harm, which remains a taboo subject despite the positive shift in how society talks about mental health. Rather than aiming to shock, this production seeks to encourage empathy and understanding, and address the ‘dark bits’ of it all with honesty and humour.
Writer Aoife Kennan stars as GIRL (Blue Jean, BFI; Vera, ITV; Sky Comedy Rep Winner 2023), whilst her BEST FRIEND is played by Zak Ghazi-Torbati (Hot Gay Time Machine, Soho Theatre/Trafalgar Studios; Doctors, BBC; The Hypochondriac, Sheffield Crucible).
Scratches follows a series of events, jumping back and forth through time as GIRL and her BEST FRIEND spiral through the years, trying to make sense of all that has happened to them. The play offers an important celebration of the light that can be found amongst darkness. The creative team have consulted Samaritan Guidelines to develop the script, and an intimacy coordinator to develop a safe space within the rehearsal room. Scratches has been continually updated to reflect the times, and is universal in the truth of its message about overcoming adversity, especially pertinent in an uncertain post-COVID global climate.
Writer Aoife Kennan comments, ‘A funny show about self-harm’ isn’t exactly an easy sell! Writing it was a very cathartic experience, and I tried to write the show that I would have wanted to see when I was really struggling. I always think that humour is the perfect way to come at a difficult conversation – being earnest all of the time can be exhausting. My own experiences with self-harm and struggles with my mental health went on for years, and at the time I often felt incredibly isolated. In my opinion, talking is everything. And that’s what this play aims to do: talk about it.
Scratches is at Arcola Theatre 7th – 11th November 2023