Clara Milly: Basketcase, Licensed to Help

Therapist Clara Milly has over 20 years’ worth of experiences on which to draw from the huge amount of people she has met and helped in her career.

A whole show of paraphrased and characterised accounts would be far more interesting.

The idea of telling their stories is fascinating, but the show fails because of the way she chooses to do it. Rather than sticking to the gentle, contemplative tones of her introduction, she actively changes to a stage persona with a combination of flat singing and rambling poetry. Rather than letting her characters’ voices dominate, she dilutes them by forcing them into an ‘artistic’ form and heavily layering them with her own opinions. She forgets the sensitivity of her subject matter in a gratuitous poem about a hyper-sexualised woman (‘Lesley – touching herself in the roots of a tree’) and completely loses us at the end in a poem about different religious viewpoints that barely makes sense at all.

An exception to this is a piece in which introduces us to a 53 year old woman, Kit, who came to her after experiencing date rape. It is the most compelling 20 minutes of the show. The key difference is that Milly speaks in the first person and acts a conduit for her client’s voice. She uses good storytelling techniques – pause, pitch, suspense and regional accent – to allow Kit to tell her own story. The result is a deeper connection to the experiences of that character than at any other point during the show, her story harrowing but gripping. A whole show of similar paraphrased and characterised accounts would be far more interesting. 

Reviews by Lettie Mckie

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The Blurb

Therapist Clara Milly has a desk full of certificates and a caseload of lunatics. Or are they? When the therapist thinks that the angels can help you, who is the lunatic? Sometimes when life gets crazy, the only way through is to go crazy with it. When things you never believed turn out real, sanity loses its safety net. Sometimes sanity's best friend is a basketcase, and Clara Milly is Licensed to Help! Based on true tales from the edges of reason. Written (and lived) in Edinburgh. 'Startlingly brilliant’ ***** (