Behind The Edge
After a successful university-level run of my Christmas musical Follow The Light at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, in 2005, I’d toyed with the idea of writing something more serious, avant-garde and minimalistic, as a contrast to the colour, vibrancy and eclectic musicality of the Nativity story. But it took several instant-messenger chats with an Australian friend, and the debut of a then-new television series, for the seeds of the idea that would eventually germinate into The Edge to come about.
This friend whom I had known for several months had confided in me, while chatting online, that he’d contemplated taking his life because of his struggles with substance dependence. I remember the questions that had gone through my mind: How should I react? What of his closer friends, his family—did they not care, did they blame themselves? How did he end up in this predicament in the first place? And, most importantly, how could I help him?
The good news is, that friend is fine today. And it is thanks to his story that I was able to start putting the pieces together that would eventually become The Edge. What happens when somebody near and dear to us decides to end his or her own life? What role did we play that led to this tragic choice? What should we do, or not do; have done, or not done?
I’d decided very early on that the central suicidal character would never be seen, and that instead the show would present the points of view, as well as recount the dialogue and interactions, of those affected by him. These persons would be emotionally linked to Josh—as the invisible protagonist was eventually named—in some way, and as I crafted the script, the mother, the best friend and the girlfriend emerged. But there was someone missing—a second solid emotional link. Who would it be?
It so happened that 2005/2006 was also the year in which a television show called Supernatural had premiered, and it featured two characters who were brothers. In watching it, and recognising the bond between the characters and the protective nature of the older brother towards the younger, it clicked: This was what The Edge needed—an older sibling, a protector and guardian, who would be deeply affected by Josh’s suicide attempt in ways markedly different from the other characters.
So thanks to this TV show, the inspiration was planted to introduce Josh’s older brother, who would serve to play the most crucial part in the story.
The initial drafts of The Edge dealt with the very problem my friend had faced—substance addiction—but that was gradually phased out to explore other, arguably more relatable issues: depression, sexuality, affairs of the heart, faithfulness and betrayal.
Rather than an exercise in doom and gloom, however, at the heart of The Edge is an attempt at exploring human relationships—how what we do can affect other people; how the decisions we make in life can have an impact on those who are close (and not so close) to us, without us necessarily realising it at all. And, ultimately, The Edge tries to ask: if we do manage to hurt someone, how readily or easily should we accept—and grant—forgiveness?