Maxwell: The Bi-Polar Princess

On the night of Oct. 18 in Crystal Cove Auditorum, there were no professors lecturing, Power Point presentations or the sounds of students typing away on their laptops. A crowd anxiously awaited the critically acclaimed ‘Crazy for Life,’ written by the award-winning actress and playwright Victoria Maxwell.
‘Crazy for Life’ is a play about Maxwell’s first-hand experiences of living and coming to terms with bipolar disorder. In conjunction with Disability Awareness Week, ‘Crazy for Life,’ co-sponsored by UC Irvine’s Health Education Center, Counseling Center, Student Mental Health Services, Disability Services Center and Active Minds depicts an inside perspective of coping with mental illness.
‘Crazy for Life’ immediately welcomes the audience into the mind frame of Maxwell’s emotional and physical trials with her bipolar disorder. Maxwell vividly shares several anecdotes of her life, from the initial symptoms of bipolar disorder and psychosis, to the emotional struggles with attempted suicide and the acceptance of her mental disease.
After a quick introduction, the entertaining Maxwell immediately captivated the audience with her boisterous and vibrant voice.
Through each anecdote, Maxwell masterfully illustrates her physical surroundings, the rush of outer body experiences while meditating, psychiatric visits and the touching finale of the little girl embracing the waves as a symbol of acceptance and hope.
With each scene, the ‘bipolar princess’ was brought to life with a torrent array of exuberance and heart-wrenching emotions that brought the audience to the brink of laughter at the same time they reached out for tissues to dry their moist eyes.
After the performance, a question and answer session followed, giving many the opportunity to ask questions and share their own stories or opinions on ‘Crazy for Life’ or mental illnesses in general. Outside the auditorium’s front doors, audio CDs, booklets, DVDs and bracelets of ‘Crazy for Life’ were available on sale, giving the opportunity for many to take home the hilarious acclaimed play as keepsakes or early stocking-stuffers.
A hilarious and compelling masterpiece, ‘Crazy for Life’ not only ignites a beacon of understanding, but also of hope and acceptance. At the end, the audience took home a few laughs, a few heart-felt tears and a better awareness of the stigmatism that is associated with mental illness.