Stunted Trees and Broken Bridges

Written by Ben Musgrave / Produced by Theatre of Debate


After the death of his Mother, Emerson experiences volatile episodes, leading to his expulsion from school and ultimately a violent outburst . Despite Emersonʼs increasingly erratic behaviour and hostility, his girlfriend, Hayley, and sympathetic friend, Miles, continue to offer their support, encouraging him to seek help. Facing trial and becoming increasingly concerned about his inability to control his behaviour, Emerson reluctantly agrees to undergo a brain scan. This scan will determine if he has a brain abnormality and can therefore plead diminished responsibility in court. The outcome of the scan will govern his future, but how reliable is this new technology, and what are the consequences of using it in this way?

Set in the near future, Ben Musgrave’s haunting play, provides a starting point for debating the importance of brain research for the enrichment of human life and for the understanding of diseases and disorders of the nervous system.

Developed with the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, The Royal Society and supported by the Wellcome trust.


Focus: Ethical issues raised by advances in neurotechnoloy and neurojustice, brain, novel neurotechnologies. Identity, mental health and well being.

Audience: Young people (14 plus) and adults

Length: 59 minutes

Full Film: Available through Theatre of Debate, with subtitles by Stagetext

Resources: Available for teachers and students, science communicators and health workers