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THE SUNNYBOY explores Jeremy Oxley’s incredible life past and present via the relationship with his brother and fellow band member Peter, and also via his relationship with his partner Mary. The two narratives are interwoven to reveal Jeremy’s back-story and to also propel the present day story that unfolds over an 18-month period.
THE SUNNYBOY establishes Jeremy as a young, much revered singer, song-writer/guitarist, the creative force behind the highly successful 80’s band the Sunnyboys. Peter admired Jeremy for his natural genius as a musician whilst Jeremy looked up to Peter as the “big brother” and main decision maker in the band. The unrelenting pressures to record, tour and come up with the next big “hit” took their toll on Jeremy and coincided with the onset of his mental illness.
Jeremy was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 22, during the final period with the band. Due to his lack of insight into his illness (which is part of his illness), he rejected the diagnosis and refused to have treatment.
Jeremy gradually withdrew from the “real” world as he tried to cope with his own reality, to decipher the confusing thoughts and auditory hallucinations that bombarded him day and night. For the next 25 years Peter and his parents lived with the unrelenting sadness of “losing” Jeremy and the frustration of not being able to help. Through his music and his painting, Jeremy strived to make sense of his pain and the suffering he saw in the world.
In 2008 Mary had been widowed for 5 years and her 10-year-old twin sons suggested she find a nice boy friend. After watching old Countdown clips they decided that Jeremy would be a good choice so for fun they did a bit of research and tracked him down. When Mary went to help Jeremy as part of a support group, he wasn’t at all well. She wasn’t deterred by his behaviour as she could see beneath the layers of illness to the gentle man locked inside. Their relationship slowly blossomed and gradually Jeremy made the choice to try medication so he could stay with Mary and become part of her family. After about 8 months of trial and error his condition began to stabilize.
Safe and secure in a loving environment, with all his physical and mental health needs being met, Jeremy’s well-being slowly improved. He tentatively revisited parts of his life that had caused him pain, particularly his brother Peter and any association with the music industry. It was like a big ball of confusion was slowly untangling and Jeremy was gradually working out what was real and what had been misconstrued.
As Jeremy and Peter sat on Jeremy’s veranda and played a song they co-wrote 30 years earlier, it was like they had never been forced apart. Re connected with his brother and growing in confidence, Jeremy makes the decision to reclaim his professional career and return to the stage.