VIDEO: Mental health takes centre stage in true story of man who came to Blackpool to end his life

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A one-man show will shed a brutally honest light on the bleak world of depression against the backdrop of Blackpool beach.

Actor Mark Newsome, 29, from Oldham, will star in ‘Blackpool, What A S** Place To Die’, by Phil Pearson, at Bootleg Social on Thursday.

Mark Newsome as Billy Costello in 'Blackpool, What A S*** Place To Die'

Mark Newsome as Billy Costello in 'Blackpool, What A S*** Place To Die'

The black comedy show is based on the true story of Mark’s life dating back to the desperate day he travelled to Blackpool in the summer of 2017 with the intention of ending his own life.

He plays Billy Costello, who is autistic and has a drink and drugs problem.

After being outed as gay in an Aldi fruit and veg aisle, his family turns against him and he flees to Blackpool on a disastrous bender in the hope of putting an end to his misery once and for all in the cold Irish Sea.

Mark said: “I spent the night writing my suicide note. It was a friend who called me as I was walking into the sea. He asked me where I was and I said Blackpool. I said I was feeling suicidal. He said: ‘Blackpool, what a s*** place to die’.”

Mark Newsome with writer Phil Pearson

Mark Newsome with writer Phil Pearson

After being picked up from the beach in front of the Blackpool Tower by police, Mark needed extensive therapy to battle his demons.

He later met Phil, who he knew through his time onstage following his studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and so the play was born.

Mark said: “We wanted to do something about mental health, mainly depression. It’s good to talk about these issues. There’s still a stigma attached and I have faced that stigma.

“It’s very biographical, so it’s real, it’s intense, it’s funny but it’s also quite dark. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.”

A trailer produced for the play shows Billy, played by Mark, wandering the streets of Blackpool as he laments his recent outing, his disability, his unemployment and dependence on alcohol and drugs. He admits: “I’m in Blackpool to just get away from everyone and just... get off my face.”

Billy’s story reflects Mark’s own real life struggles. He said: “I’ve only recently found out that I’ve got Aspergers, which is a form of autism. I always felt different and alien to other people. It was only through drama that I started to find myself.

“I felt lonely. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I felt that I wasn’t good enough. All the depressive thoughts took over and I end up going into self destruct mode.

“I was struggling with my sexuality and have since a young age. I came out at drama school and everyone was really accepting, but at home I was worried, especially about my grandfather and how he would react, because he was quite old fashioned.

“It was very hard at the time because I was not really comfortable and fully accepting it within myself. My mum and dad were brilliant with it but it was my own issues with it, being an Oldham lad from a working class town.

“It’s about the feeling of being different, and wanting to fit in.

“I started reaching out to people and being more open with my feelings. That’s the message that I want to give.

“We’re working quite closely with Mind (a mental health charity). At the show we will be raising money for Lancashire Mind.

“It’s all about giving people hope and telling them that they are not alone.

“We have been a bit worried about coming to Blackpool because of (the title) but it’s definitely tongue in cheek. It’s not slating Blackpool. It’s just where I was at the time it happened.”

‘Blackpool, What A S*** Place to Die’ will appear for one night only at Bootleg Social on Topping Street, Blackpool, on Thursday. Doors open at 7pm and the show, which lasts around 55 minutes, begins at 8pm. Tickets cost £7 plus a 70p booking fee and can be bought online at www.wegottickets.com.