Cutting into the Psychology of Totalitarianism


The young student theatre company, ‘Ception Theatre, is emerging in Lancaster. Their exciting new project, Breath in the Morgue, is being put together by the same team that brought you the critically-acclaimed piece, Honour After Honour. Bringing together enthusiastic Lancaster students to devise and perform original, innovative work.

The company is working under its own initiative, collaborating to make this project a success. Breath in the Morgue is directed by the writer, Tom Markham, who has previously written two plays that have been performed by the Lancaster University Theatre Group. Beth Backhouse, producer of Honour After Honour, is taking up the reins as assistant director. The project is funded by the members of the company; however, the team are also seeking sponsorship and further advertisement. There is no outside assistance with regards to budget management and organisation; instead the company have an efficient and dedicated production team who are overseeing the process.

The cast and crew are diverse in both what they study and the skills that they can bring to the group. There are, of course, those studying theatre, but alongside them are students of law, politics and German. Although the rehearsal process is led by the directors, there are many elements that are devised, incorporating ideas from all involved – this creates an energetic and creative working environment. There are opportunities for members to participate in any production area that they wish and to gain experience of a working theatre company.

The company want to get involved with the local community and are offering local sixth forms the chance to watch one of the matinee performances at the Dukes and have the opportunity to talk to the cast and crew afterwards about the process.

They are also keen to be innovative with their publicity. Given the freedom of publicising within the city of Lancaster, rather than the limitations to campus postering that other societies must conform to, the company hope to gain a wide and diverse audience.

‘Ception Theatre aims to continue to create theatre into the future. They are hoping to perform a script written by a former Lancaster University student, Ryan Sullivan, who will be working as a director at the Dukes theatre over the next few months. Furthermore, ‘Ception Theatre are serious about taking their current project yet further still and hope to find a venue for future performances and a place where they can develop and expand their company.

A large proportion of the company is made up of third and fourth year students who will graduate this year, meaning that their time will be freed up to focus on the development of the project. Others, in first and second year, will also continue to have a place within the company once they finish their studies.

The play, Breath in the Morgue, is set in a fictional totalitarian state and focuses on the relationship between the main character Nils, played by Leo Patel, and his carer Paul, Luke Weeks. Nils suffers from learning disabilities and is therefore regarded as ‘asocial’ by the authoritarian government and his lack of understanding of the world allows them to use him as a tool. The design of Nils’ brain is under constant manipulation by the Doctor – Fabian Weiss – a man concerned only with human experimentation; Nils is then abused and forced to become a human security camera. Through these means, the government maintains subliminal control within the state. Tackling themes of psychological study, the play confronts many difficult issues and aims to take the audience out of their comfort zone by exposing them to the extreme actions and consequences of those in power.

Due to the fact that the company is not a registered University society, they have had to be creative with rehearsal space. Currently they are to be found locked in the basement of the director’s house, being sustained only by cups of tea and biscuits. Amusingly, the director’s chair has taken the form of a washing machine, making the process infinitely more exciting…

Breath in the Morgue will be performed at the Dukes Youth Theatre on the 18th and 19th June. There will be four performances (two matinees) and tickets are £5 with £4 concessions. To view an press release and to book tickets, go to the Dukes website, On behalf of the cast and crew, we hope to see you there.

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