Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Chris Geere, Tom Riley, Jessica Regan, Christina Chong, John Gordon Sinclair, Anjana Vasa, Sanchia McCormack, Mark Asante, Lorna Browne, Tom Bell, Simon Meacock, Andrew Bennett, Wendy Meredith, Kellie Blaise, Joey Akubeze.
Mortality and comedy can live together in a secret harmony, the gallows humour employed by many when they know they are under the sentence of death, be it at the hand of state or by their own body fighting a war against them, from within the enemy is the hardest to reason with and win over.
Comedy though comes with responsibility that perhaps drama is unhindered by, it has to prove with greater sincerity that the words are heartfelt, that the one line that causes a smile is also one that touches reason, that the prospect of death is the hardest emotion we all have to deal with, to not attempt gallows humour from within is the most destructive force and sentence we can impose on ourselves.
It is a fine and careful line that many flounder and come unstuck against, especially when it goes against someone’s beliefs and measured ways of coping with the prospect of death. A line that the makers of Ill Behaviour have kept in mind in their three episode series that tackles the complex issues of dealing with cancer with medicine and science and the natural way that some have embraced with open arms.
Ill Behaviour sees three best friends from school, Joel, Charlie and Tess, confront their own opinions on the matter as Charlie, played with subtly and understanding by Tom Riley, admits he going to take the holistic approach to dealing with his own battle against his renegade body.
Newly divorced and aimless Joel and frustrated writer Tess take it upon themselves to rescue Charlie by kidnapping him and forcing him to take the chemotherapy required to save his life. It is a decision that has many repercussions, not least that the Doctor they employ to help them is dealing with feelings of depression herself and that Joel has taken a shine to her, to cocaine and Charlie’s wife Kira, played by Christina Chong, an actor that a viewer cannot help but want more of on the screen due to her infectious personality and screen presence.
The question of ethics is never far away from the idea in the script but also the underlying issue of just how far you go to interfere in the life of somebody you love when you believe they are making the wrong choice in how to solve the problem, the disease, at hand. Do you stop loving them, do you argue and threaten them with breaking off a friendship or do you follow their wishes, hoping they see sense eventually but realising Time together is more important than falling apart.
A very good series, one that really could have fallen at the first and subsequent hurdles, Ill Behaviour is a strong series with very serious overtones involved, it will not be for everyone as some battles are too raw, to sensitive to deal with but it is one that captures the fight we have with our bodies and the choice we make in how to heal.
Ian D. Hall