Sunday, October 2

OCD Me – Hill Street Theatre

A fine collaborative effort between writer and director, Aisling Smith and actress Laura Whelan, and with the timely help of an award from the Irish Arts Council – all come together here to create a beautifully constructed and at times scary insight into the debilitating fear of fear itself.

Set within the very appropriate claustrophobic airless confines of a tight 60-seater black box theatre, a small but rapt audience are treated to a thankfully short view into the world of OCD, a condition that perhaps 2% of us suffer from. The other 98% should be damn grateful they don’t! We are told OCD does NOT stand for Obsessive, Christmas, Cleaning or Chocolate Disorder, as some comedians might have us believe. Nor is saying, I’m a little bit OCD acceptable, it’s not. This is no laughing matter.

And yet there is laughter here. Sternly telling us off one minute, then releasing us into reams of laughter the next, there is no doubt Whelan has the talents for stand-up. When she picks out an audience member sitting closest to the fire door, with a manic grinning thumbs up, ‘great chair choice!’, we all laugh, nervously.

At points in the show we are asked to clap, 4 times. It helps with the obsessive thoughts flooding into the authors brain, which at times feel like, being stabbed in the heart. We can only imagine but shows like this can surely pave the way to a greater and more sympathetic understanding.

In mid-dialogue, the delicately boned Whelan suddenly shouts ‘what if I’m a paedophile!’ (What?!), before running frantically around the stage to ominous music and flashing red lights. It’s odd, but then OCD is odd.

We are educated that OCD can be characterised by fears, obsessions and thoughts that go awry, a sort of auto-immune condition, an over reaction of the brain to external stimuli – an obsessive fear of contamination or of harm, a need for symmetry, a hoarding obsession, or worst, the ‘bad feeling’ that can suddenly overcome you with intrusive or obsessive thoughts of a violent or sexual nature – child murders are the worst.

Part stand-up routine, part educational piece, and part cathartic outpouring of feelings about this often misunderstood condition, this important mark in the sand has broad appeal to all of us enduring the human condition.

Running time – 60 mins. Playing until 28th August, more information and tickets can be found HERE.

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 14th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★