The Wednesday Play: In Two Minds (1967)

We’ve had a couple of weeks of fun plays, courtesy of Noël Coward, so it’s about time we had a bit of misery. And when we want to turn to misery, naturally we turn to Ken Loach. Angry, realism-loving Ken Loach.

A frequent contributor to the BBC The Wednesday Play series, Loach offers us many choices, so since we’re feeling indecisive, let’s go with In Two Minds, written by David Mercer, who won the Writers’ Guild Award for the best television play of 1967 for this.

The first of Loach’s television plays to be shot entirely on location, bar five brief sequence shot electronically, the play owes a lot to the ideas of RD Laing, which are set out in Laing’s Sanity and Madness in the Family. Laing argued that schizophrenia* lacks an organic basis and therefore it was the family that had the potential to make people mentally ill. Oddly enough, it was famed theatre critic Kenneth Tynan who introduced Mercer and producer Tony Garnett to Laing, who was eventually retained as a consultant for the play.

Kate Winter (Anna Cropper), a young girl under psychiatric examination and receiving electroconvulsive theory, suffers from a lack of confidence, self-esteem and self-control – telling of the “bad Kate” who commits immoral acts. Could the hypocrisy, selfishness and weakness of those around her have led to this state of mind or can Kate simply be diagnosed and dismissed as a schizophrenic*?

As well as the award garnered by the play, In Two Minds would go on to be remade as the feature film, Family Life, which Loach also directed. But you can watch the original below. Enjoy**!

* Kate more properly would have had something called dissociate identity disorder, rather than schizophrenia, assuming she had what would then have been classified as schizophrenia anyway. But even at the time, psychiatrists argued that Kate would be more properly diagnosed as depressed and ‘hysterical’. But, you know, the 60s.

** If that’s the right word.