“Ever since I can remember I have always been different…If I take the pill that they have placed in my hand, who will I become?”
At the age of 23, Paul walks into a psychiatrist’s office believing he is either a God, or a King. He leaves with a diagnosis of Bipolar Manic Depression, and facing a life-changing decision: Take the pill and live, or don’t take the pill and die.
23 years later; Gods & Kings draws on Paul’s real-life experience to produce an emotionally honest, and darkly funny, account of what it is to live a life ruled by mental illness. .
First performed at the Sherman Theatre
Dr Sara Rhys Jones
Challenging perceptions of what it is to live with mental illness, Gods & Kings is a bracingly honest and darkly funny real-life tale, expressing what it is to live a life ruled by mental illness.
This special edition also contains a range of materials from the National Centre of Mental Health, Paul Whittaker & Tamsin Griffiths, covering diagnoses and issues raised in the play.
"A must-see for anyone with a role, or interest in, mental health."
Dr John Boulton, Public Health Wales
The Gods & Kings book was included in 300 delegate packs at the Welsh NHS Confederation Conference.
Gods & Kings
'It's smart, it's acerbic, it's generous, it's funny, it's genuinely moving.'
“Gods and Kings” provides a surprising, powerful and important insight into mental health service user experience and is a must-see for anyone with a role, or interest in, mental health.
We were delighted to showcase ‘Gods and Kings’ at the Welsh Public Health Conference in 2018. With its first person perspective, the play focuses on the experiences of Cardiff-based writer and co-director Paul Whittaker who was diagnosed with bipolar manic depression. The play puts the patient at the heart of the story and challenges the audience with humour and grit. It is both a work of art, and a practical learning opportunity for colleagues in health and care.”
Dr John Boulton, Director of NHS Quality Improvement and Patient Safety/1000 Lives Improvement Service,
Public Health Wales
“Gods & Kings is an opportunity to hear and experience an authentic perspective on experiencing both mental health issues and accessing services. It is honest, heartfelt and it reminds us of how we, as a service, should value what is important to the people we work with and how that understanding is fundamental to enabling their recovery/discovery.
As service users, Paul Whittaker and Tamsin Griffith’s commitment to working with Health & Social Care Professionals is central to their creative philosophy and I would recommend their work to you."
Andrea Gray Mental Health Development Lead for Wales 1000 Lives Improvement/ Improvement Cymru
'I really think Paul Whittaker is an outstanding writer, he has the perfect balance between dark and light, much like the main character. I love how it delves into mental health with a full heart, from describing how each person's mental illness is all at once classified into sections, yet not one is alike really stood out to me.'
'I was so smacked in the face by the veracity of what I was hearing and seeing that I found it almost unbearable.
I wanted to keep joining in, wanting to say YES and say, Jesus, I have felt that, I have seen that – and I have never said a word to anyone about it nor heard another human being say what I had experienced and what I had thought, felt and still think and feel.'
Mike Smith - Arts Scene Wales
‘Every politician should see Gods and Kings which is a gripping piece of theatre which follows one man’s journey of discovery of diagnosis and treatment. The portrayal of how the health service works in these situations should also be seen by health professionals. It gives much food for thought and I hope it will be widely performed.’
Julie Morgan AM , Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
‘I found it to be a thought provoking, powerful, emotional and riveting portrayal of mental illness with the right amount of humour to lift what could have been an otherwise dark evening of entertainment. Having worked in the NHS for over twenty years including a number of years associated with mental health care it was all disturbingly familiar.’
Zoe Couzens - Public Health Wales
‘During the performance of Gods and Kings I realised much of the experience of the main character resonated with findings of my PhD research. This being the case I have requested the full script as I plan to use quotes in my thesis to evidence the topic I am researching.’
Dr Nicole Burchett , Mental Health Foundation