How do we cope without love? The need for love and care, and the trauma that’s brought about by its absence is at the heart of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child/Dead Child.
The unnamed protagonist of this one-person show is confronted throughout her life with excessive discipline and punishment from her parents. Whether it’s the eye-for-an-eye punishment her father insists upon, or the hours of claustrophobia and inactivity spent corralled in the cupboard under the stairs, throughout the play we see the building tension that comes from living with parents who would rather chastise than show love.
Her only comfort comes in the shape of her imaginary friend, Benji, who becomes company of sorts at first, only to turn into something more troubling and sinister as her condition worsens.
Adult Child/Dead Child won a Time Out award in 1988, with Time Out magazine describing it as ‘A strangley exhilarating experience as well as a subtle exploration of a personality under siege.'
Adult Child/Dead Child was first presented at the Finborough Theatre Club, London, on 5 June 1987, before embarking on a national tour of the UK. Performed by the author, it was directed by Dowie’s long-time collaborator Colin Watkeys.