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WEIRD A Play about OCD review by Ian Fullbrook
Posted by SANE
21st Aug 2018

Weirdness. Interesting word. For example, I was looked upon as weird at school for not being good at sports, practical subjects or mixing with others. “Who’s that freak over there?” the other kids used to say. But we are all weird to a greater or lesser extent, aren’t we? But it’s nothing to be ashamed of, to be different, to be non-conformist, not to follow the flock.

Which brings me onto a play about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). OCD is a much misunderstood illness. People think it’s about cleanliness and tidiness. Not so. It’s about disturbing thought processes that go round and round in the brain, with the only prospect of breaking that circuit to come up with a routine that make the sufferer feel better.

I went to see a play called WEIRD in London the other day. SANE had advertised it on their internal email so I decided to pay a visit to a small theatre near London Bridge. The play was previewing before playing at the world famous Edinburgh Fringe in August. I’m not normally a theatre kind of guy, but I was curious to see what this play was about. It was Fringe theatre, a performance played out in front of about 40 people in a tiny room.

From the very outset, WEIRD hits you right between the eyes. Performing in London was Amy Doyle as Yasmin, a 22 year old woman struggling to come to terms with her everyday life and her struggles with OCD. For a whole hour, Amy gave a virtuoso performance of top quality as Yasmin and a host of other characters. Yasmin was stuck in her OCD world, and the only way she could make herself feel better was by counting “10,12,14,16”. The spooky soundtrack added to the mystique. The other characters were the naysayers, the ill informed, the don’t want to knows. They couldn’t cope with Yasmin’s illness.

The play oscillated between some dark humour, some doses of reality and some real sadness as Yasmin comes to terms with the unexpected loss of her best friend in a car accident. The end of the play made you sit up and think. We saw Yasmin wanting to end it all. The pain had become too much.

A fantastic hour of sheer class. Brilliant acting and directing. To perform on one’s own for a whole hour took a lot of doing, but the reception Amy Doyle got at the end indicated how much everyone enjoyed it. The writing of the play belongs to a delightful Mancunian lady called Lucy Burke. It is technically, Lucy’s own struggles with OCD being put out in the public domain by the medium of theatre. You can feel the resonance, the darkness, the pain and the humour that revolves around any kind of mental illness. Why did I say humour? Because sometimes you need that to manage your individual situation. Lucy Burke has written a play, that in my eyes, could easily be played out in front of a large audience. Because more people need to be educated about mental illness. It isn’t a weakness, it isn’t something to be ashamed of. We need to be talking about it.

If WEIRD plays on tour, then please go and see it. It’s brilliant. And the writer, Amy and Charlotte (who performed Yasmin’s character in Edinburgh) are very rounded, down to earth people. The reviews that WEIRD has got has been very positive. And that’s the key – positivity, to managing all our struggles.

WEIRD – A play about OCD. Written by Lucy Burke, performed by Amy Doyle and Charlotte Whitaker. Directed by Peter Taylor and Some Riot Theatre. Now playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until the 27th August.

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