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Play shines light on mental health

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The Playhouse Theatre's latest production Death of a Salesman is on this month.

With Mental Health Week underway the Playhouse Theatre’s latest production, Death of a Salesman, is well-timed to shine a spotlight on mental health issues.

Phillip Fresta plays the main character, Willy Loman, and said that even though the play was written in the mid 20th century, the themes were just as current today.

“The character Willy Loman is very complex and multi layered but that can be said about most of us,” Phil said.

“Willy represents the average American male of the mid 20th century. Turns out he is not so different to men today in this modern world.

“I, like Willy, am 60 years old. He is a traveling salesman; I too was a salesman. In the play Willy has lost the ability to sell. He is beginning to suffer dementia and can no longer drive a car safely.

“For many years he has struggled with undiagnosed anxiety and has started getting panic attacks. This, in turn, has started to change his personality.

“He is becoming short tempered and needs constant reassurance from those around him.

“This, in turn again, has started to affect his marriage and relationships with family and friends.”

Phil said there were some parallels in his own life that highlighted the importance of seeking help.

“In my 40s I started to suffer from depression and anxiety,” he said.

“I thought I could tough it out and did not seek medical help.

“At my worst, in my mid 50s, I could no longer eat without being nauseous.

“I am 182cm/six foot tall and I got down to 52.8kg.”

Phil said he finally went to the doctor and was prescribed medication.

“Within weeks my appetite returned and within a year I was emotionally back on more solid ground,” he said.

“The medication was not the be all and end all of my recovery but I know it helped pull me back up.

“Death of a Salesman is a brilliant play that may have been written and set in 1949 America but it is still fully relevant to modern society regardless of your race or social standing.”

Performances are on 7.30 pm on Friday 14, Saturday 15, Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October, with a 3 pm matinee Sunday 16 October at the Playhouse Theatre, West Bundaberg.

Bookings can be made online here or weekends from 10 am until noon at the box office, 2B Steffensen Street.

If you or anyone you know needs support, the Queensland Mental Health Week website lists a number of organisation which can help.

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