Support our Nation today - please donate here

Powerful new drama examines addiction and stigma

05 Feb 2023 4 minute read
Richard Mylan in Sorter image by Kirsten McTernan

Creative collective Grand Ambition is preparing to stage its first original production, written and co-performed by local actor Richard Mylan.

The hard hitting and personal new play Sorter is set on the streets of Swansea and tells the stories of two very different people with addiction.

It asks if there is such a thing as an “acceptable” addict, and why as a society we make a distinction.

Mylan, known for his roles in Waterloo Road, Doctors and Coupling, wrote Sorter as a way of coming to terms with his own 20-year battle with heroin addiction.

The play is billed as an insightful study of legal and illegal opioid addiction, told through the lens of a nurse who reaches for the controlled drugs cabinet to erase the pain of childhood trauma, and a long-term addict who drowns out the voices in her head by taking tomorrow’s ‘sorter’ early.

As these two lives cross and intersect, the play asks whether either of them can escape the cycle of shame, and if they just might be each other’s salvation.

Fellow Swansea actor Sophie Melville, who starred in Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott, will play ‘Example A’ alongside Grand Ambition director Mylan’s ‘Example B’.

Swansea born Francesca Goodridge, who has just been appointed Associate Director of Theatr Clwyd, will direct.


Richard Mylan said: “I wrote Sorter for myself initially; it’s been a crucial part of my recovery from heroin addiction.

“The process ended up being incredibly cathartic and healing. It ultimately allowed me to make sense of an extremely chaotic period of my life.

“Addiction itself can rob you of ambition, of opportunity, added to that, the stigma around addiction means that you are generally denied the chance of reconnecting with your ambition and opportunity, because stigma almost brands you for life as unworthy, untrustworthy, undeserving of opportunity, of wanting to progress.

“If we shift the stigma, we shift recovery towards more meaningful, prosperous outcomes that reconnect people more to who they really are.

“My hope is that Sorter will help others struggling with addiction, those in recovery & the friends & family who battle with them. I very much hope it will help people and organisations in Swansea challenge their empathy response to people with addiction, why we consider some forms of addiction to be more socially acceptable than others.

“I hope it will lead to a bigger conversation where all addictions are treated equally with empathy, dignity & understanding.”

Sophie Melville in Sorter image by Kirsten McTernan


Goodridge explains why she was drawn to the project, the first professional production she will have premiered in her hometown.

Sorter, much like Swansea, is unapologetically beautiful and ugly in equal measure. It explores the lives of two very different people, who for all of their experiences, dreams, and faults, aren’t as dissimilar as we first think.

“It asks us, the audience, to really question our opinion of people living with addiction and encourages us to really see them. To see past our pre-determined opinion because of their circumstances, but to actually try to see the humanity.”

Sorter opens at Swansea Grand Theatre with a preview on 2nd March. Performances including matinees will run until 10th March 2023.

Tickets are strictly limited with various ticket pricing options available, from pay what you can allocations to £14. Every performance will be captioned and BSL interpreter Julie Doyle will interpret performances on 03/03 & 09/03.

Age guidance 16+, contains strong language and adult themes. See website for content warnings.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.