Altered Minds, Altered Realities


Altered Minds, Altered Realities is a raw and courageous presentation of Mental Illness. Augustus Stephens has created 6 vignettes of different people living with different conditions in a brutally honest, lyrical and thoroughly entertaining way. ...

Each new character had their own nuances and every scene was told from a slightly different perspective. The various writing styles that Augustus employed for the vignettes meant that our attention was held throughout, and every new character was as fresh, funny and heart-breakingly honest as the last one. His song ‘You Took the Hole in My Heart’ was simply stunning. With lyrics that could rival Morrissey or Ian Curtis, the song took us through Gus’ explosive mental breakdown, so powerful in its lack of melodramatics. ...

The direction was excellent. It steered the show away from the traps that most one-man shows fall into. The space was used to its maximum potential, with a beautiful contrast being had between the moments of chaotic movement and pockets of complete stillness. The bold, and incredibly effective choice to have the entirety of depressed Doug’s monologue to be told using voice- over really highlighted the loneliness of the illness. 

This performance was the bravest I have seen during the fringe. Augustus’ openness on stage, and his willingness to show some of the really ugly sides of these illnesses was truly astonishing. The message of the show was clear – these six characters are just people. The biggest problem with their illness is the lack of understanding that surrounds them, from the general public, their friends and family, or their doctors. 

The care that had been taken to ensure that the writing was never preachy, heavy-handed or self-indulgent was very clear. I wish Augustus the best of luck on his mission to educate people further on mental health. And with the incredibly well written songs and monologues in this play, I have no doubt that he will succeed. 

The Open Door, published 27th August 2016 by Laura Ellis 

Highly Recommended Show 

A play in six scenes about six different characters, written and acted by a man who has undergone various treatments for various mental illnesses himself. It was performed with humour, energy and songs. It is not a play about how awful it is to be mentally ill but a play which tries to get the audience to enter the minds of people with mental problems. 

He held our attention throughout. The characterisations were all very different. There was quite a bit of humour in the dialogue especially in a very funny poem about the difficulty of eating a kebab. The characters were very believable on stage which I suppose comes from someone who has experienced the different physicalities of the various conditions. His eyes were extremely expressive showing all the fear and incomprehension in the characters’ lives.  

Augustus Stephens also played guitar and sang a few catchy songs describing the problems of mental illness and asking the audience to join in the chorus of the last one which the small audience did so happily. It was a lovely touch at the end asking audience members to say which character they liked the best. 

All this was done without asking for sympathy but just trying to get the audience to see life through the eyes Chris, Aled, Stanley, Gus, Doug and Larry. 

This play deserves to be seen by more people and congratulations to Augustus Stephens for his performance and courage. 

Fringe Review - Published May 14, 2016 by Nigel Nevinson 

Frankenstein: Man or Monster


A refreshingly innovative take on Mary Shelley’s 19th century novel, Augustus Stephens’ one-man performance effortlessly portrayed mental illnesses through the depiction of Victor Frankenstein, Igor, Elizabeth, as well as the Monster. While maintaining the original tropes of Shelley’s novel in his show, Stephens cleverly brings it into the contemporary by raising awareness of mental health issues within it. 

Revolving around Frank, Frankenstein: Man or Monster has multiple personalities (called D.I.D, Dissociative Identity Disorder). The regular switches from one personality to the next manifest themselves through schizophrenia in Victor and the Monster, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Igor, and through an eating disorder in Elizabeth. 

Though Victor and the Monster both suffer from schizophrenia, they individually suffer from different symptoms. Victor has paranoia and delusions of grandeur, one such delusion showing itself through his belief that he is studying at Ingolstadt University, whilst in actual fact he is more likely to be trying to get his A-Levels at Brighton. The fact that his delusions convey themselves through the educational implicitly, highlights how society needs to be more knowledgeable of the above mental conditions that are more common than one might initially think. The Monster’s schizophrenia, meanwhile, is far different. Amidst hearing voices, hallucinating and having confused speech, his view of the world is very narrow and cannot understand why people don’t see it in the same way, thus making him confused and upset. 
The sudden musical interludes from the characters throughout reflected the various, ever-changing rhythms of the lives of people with such conditions. Indeed, the jarring nature with which they entered the performance, mirrored the deviation from what is considered normal behaviour in society, was made even more so by the comforting tone of the music in contrast to the often-sad sentiment of the lyrics. 

Stripped back and incredibly emotive, Stephens’ one-man performance will leave you begging for more. The lack of props on stage made the audience focus more intently on the characters’ reaction to whatever situation they found themselves in. For in the “civilised” society that Stephens alludes to in Frankenstein: Man or Monster, the normative conditions it creates illuminate how all walks of life will inevitably encounter the same situations, but just won’t deal with them in the same way. This subtle allusion proved hard-hitting and gave the audience time to reflect on the blessed differences that comprise our society. 
With the behaviour of the main characters being based on conversations and communications with people who have or have had these conditions, as well as Augustus’ own experiences of mental illness, Stephens boldly, but respectfully brought these issues to light. Undoubtedly, a performance to be enjoyed by all. 

This Way Madness Lies

He’s certainly hard to take your eyes off 

                             *** ScotsGay August 2014 

It is by turn quirky, idiosyncratic, humourous, vulnerable, self-deprecating, honest... 

There are many things to like in this show and nothing to dislike. 

Do go and see this ultimately heart-warming show by a brave man. 

                         Buxton Fringe Review 2014 – Ian Parker Heath 

His performance is a powerful one 

                         Lancaster Guardian – April 2014 

Comments from people with experience of Mental Illness

I wanted to email you last week and say how much my friend and I enjoyed your brilliant escapade at the Art festival. A real,insight into what being ‘there’ feels like. You made it seem like fun much of the time but I know it was not. Humour is a tool which opens channels but hides the pain.  

                       N.H. Rugby 

Your show last night was fantastic. It really resonated with me, having been through a similar experience. You are a fantastic performer. Thank you for being so open about your experiences. I will definitely be getting more of my friends and family to see your next performance. 

                    J.C. Birmingham