The descent into drug addiction for Shane Rebecchi (Nicholas Coghlan) in Neighbours will tear the Ramsay Street family apart, and there are dramatic scenes in store as the stressed dad’s wife Dipi Rebecchi (Sharon Johal) reels from her other half’s lies.
In an exclusive chat with RadioTimes.com, Johal talks us through how Shane’s downward spiral and determination to hide his habit has a game-changing impact on the Rebecchis’ marriage as the shock storyline takes some distinctly dark developments.
Were you surprised when you heard about the gritty drugs storyline?
It was a shock in the sense I didn’t think Dipi and Shane would go through this personally. Dipi would never in a million years expect her husband of 20 years to experience addiction, and to hide something of that magnitude from her. I think it’s great Neighbours is tackling darker subjects, it’s more real. I am also glad we’re discussing depression, it needs to be normalised in our communities.
Is Dipi worried about Shane’s recent suspicious behaviour?
Shane has been acting super erratically, Dipi understands juggling university with work is a struggle but she can’t make sense of his extreme mood swings. They are disconnected as a couple and Dipi has tried to ease the load and get him to pull back the studies, but he refuses insisting he can cope and she is always the brunt of his bad moods.
Does she think he’s cheating on her?
Dipi finds out he is going to Roxy for advice, someone who he has compromised history with, instead of his wife. She doesn’t think he is cheating per say, but is hurt he is emotionally investing in Roxy. It could jeopardise their marriage. But Dipi doesn’t know Roxy is trying to ween Shane off drugs!
What does Dipi think when Shane misses their anniversary dinner?
She puts all this effort into cooking a special dinner, although Shane doesn’t seem excited which is hurtful to Dipi as she wants to celebrate this milestone. Then he doesn’t show up! Dipi is devastated but also concerned as he’s been acting so strangely. She drives off to look for him and eventually finds him staring at a wall, expressionless in a random location. She is stunned and starts thinking he may be suffering from a health issue, or something more sinister.
Does she confront him?
No. Dipi is caught completely off guard and is in shock. Because she doesn’t know what she’s dealing with she isn’t prepared to confront him yet – she doesn’t want to make the situation worse and decides to give Shane the chance to tell her what’s going on when he gets home. But he lies to her face about where he’s been…
Shane gets aggressive towards Roxy during a row, does he explain himself to Dipi then?
He does not. Shane has the opportunity to do so but goes along with Dipi’s growing presumption he is suffering from depression. He is adamant he can handle everything and doesn’t want to defer his studies when it’s suggested. He concocts a plan to have some time off back in Colac, but really he goes to try and get clean on his own.
Would Dipi support Shane if she knew the truth?
She’s always stood by her husband no matter what, but at this point she is sick of Shane always having an excuse to lie. It’s happened so many times, Dipi can handle the truth of anything as long as she is not the last to know, but he doesn’t seem to learn from 20 years of mistakes and promising to be honest. She is sick of his immaturity and inability to handle communication like an adult. Even if Dipi forgives him for lying about the drugs, there is a serious crack in the marriage that may not be able to be repaired.
Do you think their marriage can survive?
With many instances of dishonesty in relationships it’s a process, so even if you think you have overcome and moved past the issue it can repeatedly rear its ugly head at unexpected time – all I’d say is stay tuned for those juicy moments!
Would you be upset if the characters split up?
I would feel sorry for them and the family, the breakdown of a marriage affects so many people outside the couple. Personally however, I would enjoy the challenge as an actor – it would give me something to sink my teeth into, and I could draw upon my experience as a qualified family lawyer for guidance!