Chloe Marschener

It seems impossible now that it took so long for me to consider myself disabled, but looking back on it it seems almost impossible to miss. Struggling in school not because I didn’t understand the content, but because my hand wouldn’t obey the command to write the symbols, endless marks deducted from my essays for “bad handwriting”, and a fair few comments of “if your hand doesn’t work, how do you w**k?”. Disability was always a bigger part of my life than even I realised.

Given that, when I read over the script for Attrition, I was overjoyed. Never had I seen such an authentic look at living with a disability in a world which has no patience for it. I knew I had to apply to direct, and luckily, I got the job.

“Never had I seen such an authentic look at living with a disability in a world which has no patience for it. ”

Written by Nathaniel Wright and Katrina Rose, Attrition follows the story of Mike and Jaz, two students in a shared living arrangement, and Mike’s friend Emma, who appears only as a voice over the phone. Mike studies rocks; Jaz is a computer scientist (I’m sure you can sense the drama already). Mike also has a disability which affects his hands, meaning that certain daily tasks have to be adjusted. The trials of cutting carrots, opening jars, and nagging to get proper dispensation to sit his exams in an accessible way are all intimate parts of Mike’s life. As someone who also struggles in the hand department, I could not help but relate.

Jaz, on the other hand (if you’ll pardon the pun) is a lovely, well-meaning, able-bodied young biologist. She has hang-ups about whether she works hard enough, and unfortunately suffers from the eternal academic bane of Imposter Syndrome, but is overall nice.

It is not that Jaz doesn’t want to understand Mike’s disability, it is just that she can’t. She has never been through anything like it. Helping to make life more accessible to a disabled person (like myself) always cuts a fine line between kindness and condescension, and Jaz just can’t seem to get on the kindness side of that divide. Repeatedly she meets Mike’s requests for support with one tablespoon of help and two tablespoons of mockery. In the same breath as she helps him cut carrots she jokes about his inability to do so. With one hand she gives kindness, but with the other she takes away his dignity. I think the disabled readers of this passage will find a lot to relate to here.

“When I first read the script I laughed and cried”

Despite its heavy subject matter, Attrition is as much a comedy as a drama. Though it spends a lot of time looking at the turbulent aspects of Mike and Jaz’s friendship, it also shows the good times they have together. Be it chatting about which niche PowerPoints they would present at a seminar of mates, or getting into a heated apology-war over a spilt drink, there is plenty of levity for the comedy lover to be found within this hour-long production.

If you will forgive me a moment of sincerity, I do genuinely think this play is an important one. I, and many other disabled people, grew up without ever seeing theatre written from the perspective of someone like us, or acted by people with the very disability that is the subject of the show. We often either had to choose between being depicted as monsters (as much as I love the Phantom of the Opera) or pity-porn. This was one of the first times I had seen a narrative about disability being told by a disabled person which pulled no punches and was at one turn funny, at another turn heart-breaking, and at every step along the way relatable. When I first read the script I laughed and cried, and when you see the show I am confident that you will too.

Finally, I cannot sing the praises of the cast and the production team enough. Our three leads perform their roles with nuance, conviction, and skill, each of them bringing out aspects of their characters which make them feel almost like you have met them before. Likewise, our production team has been working tirelessly on making sure the lighting, set, sound, and costume meld together in a seamless and impactful way. I encourage anyone who has yet got a ticket to do so. It is an astonishingly good show put together by an astonishingly good prod team and performed by astonishingly good actors. Frankly, there is no excuse not to be there.


Mountain View

Seeing Red: ‘Bull’ Review

Attrition is showing at the ADC theatre from the 13th-16th October at 11PM. Tickets are available here:

The ADC Theatre is wheelchair accessible, has accessible toilets, and an infra-red audio system. Assistance dogs are also welcome.