The Divided Laing



The Divided Laing

by Patrick Marmion

  • This manic farce explores the ideas of radical psychiatrist RD Laing on the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Association which he co-founded.
  • Ideas which were way ahead of their time about the treatment of those with mental health issues, have now been incorporated into everyday practice.
  • Produced by Stepping Out Theatre Company which aims to raise awareness of mental health in the UK.


Some people are lucky: they get through life thinking the ground beneath them is solid…

London, 1970: Experimental psychiatrist R.D. Laing is facing eviction from his pioneering asylum in the East End’s Kingsley Hall. Local residents are up in arms and to make matters worse, Ronnie’s revolutionary colleague David Cooper is flipping out on the roof…

With his personal life going down the pan and his mental state heading the same way, Ronnie takes an acid trip to the future. His mission is to save his therapeutic collective The Philadelphia Association and secure his professional legacy. Will it be a one-way ticket to madness or can breakdown sometimes mean breakthrough?

In 1965 R.D. Laing and his associates turned London’s Kingsley Hall into a pioneering residential treatment centre. A safe haven for people with psychosis and schizophrenia, it was a controversial asylum with no locks on the doors, where treatment with antipsychotic drugs was considered taboo. Instead, Laing encouraged residents to embrace madness as an attempt at self-healing. Laing himself became a darling of the swinging Sixties with admirers including The Beatles, Jim Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and Sean Connery.



“A magical mystery tour into the mind of RD Laing, Patrick Marmion keeps one foot in the past and one in the far-future to create a brilliantly imaginative, very funny play for today.” Leo Butler, playwright.

“Fiercely intelligent and hugely entertaining.” Alistair Beaton, satirist and writer on Spitting Image.

“Patrick Marmion never loses his masterly grip on his unruly subject’s strategies to defeat his professional rivals and his personal nightmares.” Lloyd Trott, Dramaturg, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art


About the author

Patrick Marmion is a writer, producer, journalist and teacher. Previous plays include an adaptation of Will Self’s novel Great Apes (Arcola), The Divided Laing (Arcola), Terms & Conditions (White Bear), Osterley (Urban Scrawl), Pieta – After Chekhov (Finborough & Print Room) and The Institute (Etcetera). Screenplays include Mushroom Soup (Sam Mendes/Renaissance Films), Kids FM (Working Title Television), Maid Marion (Channel Four Films), Archie Tanner & The Dodo (Children’s Film & Television Foundation) and a novel, The Dead Guy. His new play, Keith? Or Moliere Rewired has just been published by Aurora Metro.



























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