Madeleine West on how acting is a “form of therapy”

Madeleine West

Madeleine West: “It’s a way to flex every feeling I have about what I’ve gone through”

Madeleine West is best known for playing Dee Bliss on Neighbours and now she is performing in a one woman show called The Last List of Vivian Walker, based on Megan Albany‘s best selling-novel.

CONTENT WARNING: This article references sexual abuse 

At the beginning of the year, West revealed that she was sexually assaulted “many, many times” by a man when she was a child and on Monday, January 20, stood up in Parliament House to give evidence at a public hearing into law enforcement capabilities in relation to child exploitation.

Now, speaking with Mediaweek’s head of entertainment Anita Anabel on The Entertainment Hotline podcast, West admitted that her new live show was a way to “flex every feeling I have about what I’ve gone through”.

madeleine west

Madeleine West reveals that acting is a “form of therapy”

While the story of The Last List of Vivian Walker is about a woman dying of cancer, at its core, “it’s about identifying and listing what really matters to you.”

“When you’re staring down the face of death, everything falls into perspective. So this play has been my saving grace.”

West also realised that over the years, acting in itself, has been a form of therapy.

“It led me in a short frame of time to all the big emotions – all the pain and all the love and all the excitement and exhilaration and devastation that I felt.

“It has been such therapy for me going through this because you can get lost in the shame and the fear and the disappointment and the sense of the problem being so big.”

The 42-year-old has been acting since the tender age of five, revealing that it also provided a “safe space” for her when she was being abused.

“It’s the place where dreams could come true,” she said. “Where I could lose myself against the lines of a script or the score of a song, or step into the skin of any character that was assigned to me.

“[I could] walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world through different eyes and tell a story that was far removed from my own. Being able to wear someone else’s skin was comforting.”

last list of vivian walker

Madeleine West was confronting her “monster” when the Neighbours finale was filmed

When the original Neighbours finale aired in July 2022, fans questioned why her character was absent — and now we know the reason why.

“I was beginning my journey with facing my monster when the Neighbours finale filmed and so I wasn’t able to be a part of it,” she revealed. “Now I can explain why I wasn’t there.”

As for the series coming to its original end, West said she was “shocked”.

“It was the ultimate immersive television experience because they were people you saw every day,” she said. “They were closer to you in this day and age where we’re all quite separated.

“We don’t know who our neighbours are and yet we know who Doctor Karl is. So, we’re talking about 30 years of collected history. It was a safe place where people could go.”

Madeleine West

The mother-of-six has also turned her experience into a podcast called Predatory with former homicide detective Gury Jubelin. Here, she shares her own powerful story of survival and Jubelin shares his experiences hunting down predators as a homicide detective.

Listen to Predatory here and buy tickets to The Last List of Vivian Walker here.

Listen to The Entertainment Hotline with Anita Anabel — a Mediaweek and Chattr podcast, here.

If you’re currently in distress or know someone who is, please head to 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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