The Misfit Analysis at the Vault FestivalCultureTheatre
The Misfit Analysis is a poignant look into the mind of an autistic man, Cian Binchy. Interactive and cutting-edge, the play combines the use of performance, props, video and audience engagement. Cian’s relationship with the viewers is lively, as he summons people to the stage to wear smiley faces, spin toys, and answer questions about autism.
The piece focuses on Cian’s experience of living with autism. While it does not touch on truly high-functioning autism, the actor does have this variety of the condition. With humour and wit, he portrays the realities of living with a disability in this society and coping with institutional prejudices. In The Misfit Analysis, he expresses bitterness about his attempts to lead a normal life, get a job, and meet women, all the while encountering patronising attitudes and rejection. People advise him to tend a garden – he hates gardening. He applies for drama school and is immediately turned away. He tries to socialise with a blow-up doll, but even she rejects him.
Portraying the many aspects of autism, Cian alternates between states, sometimes engaging with the world, sometimes sitting motionless, sometimes lost in a psychological fog, pleading for help. Those who hear his requests for assistance refuse him, stating that they only help wheelchair users or visually impaired people. This highlights his sensation of being neither normal nor disabled, but in between, unacknowledged and lacking in resources.
It is notable that the play does not distinguish between high-functioning autism (Asperger’s Syndrome) and more severe manifestations. Those with Asperger’s are often less likely to “stim”, talk to blow-up dolls, or retreat into mental isolation. That said, a variety of tendencies, from mild to extreme, can be found on the wide spectrum measuring this condition. Famous people living with autism are briefly touched upon in the piece, but the achievements and genius of many others remain otherwise unexamined, perhaps to exhibit that autism is still not well understood.
The Misfit Analysis is successful as a study of disability. With humour and frustration, Cian’s attempts to interpret his role as an autistic man in the world, lamenting his feeling of being a misfit and an outsider. Then finally an epiphany: his journey of the mind evolves to a conclusion. Society is made up entirely of misfits and outsiders. As if transformed, Cian meets the world with a positive energy, following his acceptance into drama school. What a brilliant, optimistic finale!
The Misfit Analysis is on at the Vault Festival from 2nd until 6th March 2016, for further information or to book visit here.