Images courtesy of Anto Seery

Ger Duffy, played by Anto Seery in the one-man-show Love in the Wild, lives with drug addiction.

“But that’s not the whole of him,” says Seery.

The play, which follows Duffy’s journey on foot through the city centre and Ballymun, “confounds the stereotype of an addict”, he says.

Duffy tries to do normal things to help his recovery, says Seery. But “they all seem to end in a bit of a car crash”.

And then, Duffy gets some news.

Shaking Stigma

Lisa Walsh wrote Love in the Wild while in a writers’ programme at the Axis arts centre in Ballymun.

“There was addiction issues in my family growing up,” says Walsh, a former social worker.

“The stigma of being an addict is huge, so for me it was getting the voice of the addict out there in a meaningful way,” she says.

In the play, which opens 8 March, Duffy tries to overcome his addiction, at times humorously.

Together with director Peter Sheridan, and performer Seery, her partner, Walsh tried to develop Ger Duffy into a character who’d have a broad appeal on the stage.

“So it’s not a lecture,” she says. “It’s not so much a social commentary but it is about class, it is about inequality.” But with humour and warmth.

The Dreamer

As Duffy journeys through Dublin, up north to Ballymun and back, trying to work on his recovery, things go from bad to worse.

Several characters, who are all played by Seery, pass in and out of his world.

There is Duffy’s ma and his sister Louise, his mate Curly, and Mr McManus, and staff who work in the local swimming pool.

“He’s really tying hard to change, and then he gets some news during this journey that he hopes gives him the final push towards that,” says Seery. “As a character, he’s full of heart, full of soul.”

Duffy is not unlike Seery himself, who has lived with addiction in the past. The perspective of somebody who lives with addiction is not often put on the stage, says Seery, who became involved in theatre as part of his recovery.

“You don’t see characters like this fella,” he says. “Sometimes you’ll get a drug addict represented on stage and they’re a stereotype, that one-dimensional drug addict.”

“Drug addicts are no different from any other person, though,” says Seery. “They have dreams, they have hopes, they have aspirations, they’re human beings.”

Love in the Wild, therefore, is an antidote to this oversimplification and mischaracterisation.

The play, which began as a monologue, has been touring around various community, drug and recovery agencies throughout Dublin.

“The response has been overwhelming,” says Seery. “People relate to Ger, but you don’t have to be a drug addict to do so.”

The play’s themes – redemption, love, hope, isolation – are universal, after all, says playwright Walsh.

“It is hugely important how people relate to Ger,” says Walsh. “But a lot of things that he goes through relate to everybody.”

There are dates scheduled for performances of Love in the Wild at Axis in Ballymun, the Five Lamps Arts Festival, the Sean O’Casey theatre in East Wall, the Dolmen Theatre in Cornelscourt, and the Viking Theatre in Clontarf.

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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