How long does a hamster last?

MY own most complicated barrier: Jennifer Martin plays ‘Naomi’ in episode 19 of the Ink Jockey podcast series, The End of the Line. Photograph courtesy imdb.

EPISODE 19 OF the podcast series The End of the Line takes the premises of the project and reaches into an even more complex situation than a quizzical ‘why don’t you want to have babies?’ posed by a stranger to a pretty young woman. Naomi, played by Jennifer Martin, has a much more complicated make up than most of the other women who have been the focus of the series so far.

Working with euphemisms and skirting the issue in a way that leads you in and paints a solid and empathetic portrait of the character, the episode deals with the woman who is not allowed to have children because of her psychiatric proclivities.

Performed with a hesitant approach, which lends a fulsomeness to the persona being evoked here, the work opens up a whole gamut of awareness of mental illness, through implication rather than tossing blood and guts descriptions out there. And things half articulated by Naomi are implicitly essays in immensely difficult problems. Not only in terms of baby making and child rearing, but in terms of being in the world.

There’s a sophistication in this episode which comes of awareness of the self. If you’ve soldiered through a dread illness and stand on the other side of the diagnosis, the treatment, the side effects and the whole bang-shoot, even if you are a mere 22, something has changed in your sense of self. And this is what we experience with Naomi. She’s had a couple of relationships; she’s young, but she’s looking at life and the future through eyes that have been aged by her personal condition.

Naomi might make you think about the kind of stories told in works of the ilk of David Robbins’s Walking to Australia or Pieter Fourie’s Faan se Trein, where mental illness falls into the loupe. And like these works, it’s no “ach shame” kinda tale. Rather it’s an “I’m looking into the mirror and I see a broken me”, one, told with candour that will blow your mind.

Naomi is a story written and directed by Mark Heywood. With production support by Lynne McConway and editing by Pocket Blockbuster, it features casting by Sydney Aldridge and music by Daisy Chute and Cerian of the Heard Collective; it is performed by Jennifer Martin and it is the 19th in a series of podcasts produced by Ink Jockey collectively called The End of the Line.

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