Executive Dysfunction 2.0 - A Review by Lucy Davidson
Gregor Mackenzie’s world is one of liminality and colouring outside the lines, deep feeling and quiet vulnerability. It is also a joyful world that delights in everything from a rainbow oil spill in a puddle to the cosmic twinkle in the mundane.
We are privileged to enter these worlds in Executive Dysfunction, a theatre piece made up of thirteen short and intimate monologues that explore the writer’s experiences of his autism and ADHD. Performed by Gregor Mackenzie himself, each of the monologues is broadcasted to us from a different space, such as his bedroom, a tree-filled garden and a view of a loch in the Scottish
The play is a patchwork, since the monologues can be played in any order. This is handy: much like Mackenzie’s view of the world, feeling from one story bleeds into the next, meaning there are a near endless number of ways to listen to his story.
Executive Dysfunction is tumultuous, confessional and sometimes necessarily troubling. In a world too often designed solely for the neurotypical, pieces such as Being Around People remind us that while others see in ‘crystal clear high definition’, Mackenzie’s world sometimes appears like a camera lens smeared with a thumb print.
For example, Mackenzie’s yearning and frustration at being barred from the elusive spaces that can appear to hold the key to happiness are particularly well-observed. In Let Me Float, he declares that he wants to feel ‘high when I’m sober’ and ‘set fire to myself’. Here, we recognise his rage and empathise with his desire to belong.
In spite of the frustrations that Mackenzie details, there is enormous joy in his writing: crucially, Executive Dysfunction isn’t meant to elicit pity, but rather start a conversation about how we can, in his words, redraw a world where the ‘lines don’t matter any more.’
In particular, the intimate Afterglow is light and joyful, employing a loose rhyming structure to highlight the freedom that Mackenzie is able to feel in the liminal spaces that others might avoid. They are his strength: as the night turns to day, Mackenzie addresses someone - perhaps himself - reminding them that they ‘wear hope so well.’
Indeed, hope is the lingering message of Mackenzie’s Executive Dysfunction. As an artist who aims to raise awareness and advocate for those who are similarly neurodivergent, Mackenzie has written a highly-sensitive and accomplished piece that challenges our perception of what ‘normal’ looks like.
In his words, ‘I don’t want to slow down. At least not all the time.’
This review has been written by Lucy Davidson, as part of Framework's Theatre Writers Pilot Scheme.