Review: Looking For Lightning by Garth McLean

A personal journey of yoga as therapy.

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Looking for Lightning by Garth McLean
Published 16 Aug 2018

There’s a slap and slither of skin as Garth McLean bends his body back. Using yoga as therapy for his multiple sclerosis, McLean stretches his limbs and tips upside down. His personal journey is engaging, but watching someone do yoga can only be so gripping.

A storm builds inside McLean as he loses motor skills and sensations. It’s debilitating and embarrassing. After his diagnosis, his friends become distanced and the acting industry even more so. Following the advice of his doctor, he takes up lyengar yoga, a form following the instruction of B.K.S. lyengar, whose centenary the show celebrates.

McLean’s very literal script is overly explanatory. He describes the value of each yoga pose as he does them, grunting with the effort, though astonishingly maleable for someone whose body has been through so much. As he regains feeling through daily practice, his nerves beginning to connect themselves again, he decides to go to India to meet his idol. At this point, the storytelling drags. A cheesy powerpoint and an unnecessary nude scene later, he’s stronger than ever since his initial diagnosis.

Though it veers into preaching at times, Looking For Lightning doesn’t push the idea of yoga as a replacement for drugs, rather another way to help a body get stronger. McLean relapses when he pushes his body too hard, never suggesting he’s fully cured, but it might give hope to someone suffering something similar. For the rest of us, it promotes the mental and physical benefits of yoga. While it would work better as a story told down the pub, or perhaps next to him in a yoga class, it did leave my legs feeling like they needed a stretch.