Festival of Ideas May 2017
Mad to be Normal
David Tennant turns in a memorable performance as Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing in Robert Mullan’s biopic of the maverick scientist.
There was no more charismatic or controversial a figure during the swinging '60s than Scottish psychiatrist R D Laing. Dubbed “the white Martin Luther King” and the “high priest of anti-psychiatry”, Laing was as famous as Dylan. In 1965, he established Kingsley Hall in East London as a medication-free community for those seriously affected by schizophrenia. His methods, which involved experimenting with LSD on his patients and practicing a form of self-healing known as metanoia, flew in the face of a medical establishment that considered Laing a dangerous radical.
Mad To Be Normal offers a powerful account of Laing’s Kingsley Hall experiment with a stunning performance from David Tennant that truly gets under the skin of an utterly compelling figure. Tennant’s nuanced, complex work conveys a sense of Laing’s immense personal charm and the combination of intelligence and arrogance that made him equally revered and reviled. The film also captures the darker side of a mercurial man who rarely made it easy for those who dared to get close to him, especially his lover Angie (Elisabeth Moss) and fearures a magnificent ensemble cast delivering heartrending performances including Michael Gambon and Gabriel Byrne.
Followed by a Q&A with director Robert Mullan.