Leo Butler’s new comedy All You Need is LSD is a bold and insightful production about the history of drugs and its effects on society.
This is a real trip to the theatre in more ways than one and the crazy piece of theatre uses humour, wit and facts a production that takes us through a plotted history of LSD. With the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann who discovered the drug back in 1938 to Leo Butler himself who took part in a drug trial as an experiment.
You’d probably question if Leo was on drugs when he wrote this play because of quite how bonkers it is, and it appears he was. He takes the audience back through when he did the LSD drug trial and takes the audience on his journey of thoughts and hallucinations.
Opening with Leo having a conversation with the Birmingham Rep about programming the play, after submitting a few ideas he was shocked to find out this was the one they wanted to go for. This hilarious scene sets the tone for the rest of the play as he invites to watch how he research took place. Instead of a strong narrative, the 90-minute play takes more of a stream of consciousness that captures the highs and lows of LSD with celebrities, Alice in Wonderland and Doctor Who even making an appearance – yes I know what you’re thinking. But the script is strong and the witty writing proves to work.
The cast of four bring huge energy and commitment to the piece and their over the top characterisation gives the play real pace. Annie Fitzmaurice is superb in the gender switched role of Leo Butler. Her dry humour and blunt honesty is seriously funny. Jack Hunter has electric energy as a huge advocate for LSD, his character lacks inhibitions as he storms across the stage stating his beliefs. Sophie Mercell gives a remarkable performance taking on multiple roles showcasing her excellent skill as an actor. Whether it’s the desperate wife declaring her love to her dying husband or Helen Mirren, her performance is sharp. George Potts plays Mercell’s husband Huxley who although is silent during the last few moments before he dies, his presence brings out emotion to create a really tender scene.
All You Need is LSD is an insane yet eye-opening piece of theatre that is highly enjoyable. I did wonder many times ‘maybe if I’d ever taken drugs I’d understand this a lot more’, but equally it was a really humorous and thought-provoking insight into someone’s head when experiencing LSD and other drugs.