Ghost River Theatre’s presentation of ‘OCD’ examines mental illness

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In the quiet of the West Village Theatre, audience members wait for the play OCD to start. Jenna, the theatre volunteer comes in to give the audience general etiquette pointers. Turn off your cell phone, the play should be starting shortly. But then she starts talking about in case of emergency, where the exits of the theatre are, and it’s all done in an awkward, nervous manner. Then you realize that this is the play. This is OCD.

Louise Casemore is Jenna, the theatre volunteer and the premise of the show is that there is a sound issue with the production, so Jenna tries to keep the audience occupied. She talks about her boyfriend Dave, and how he has good numbers. His date of birth has lucky numbers, his age is a lucky number, while hers aren’t as lucky. She offers audience members water and beer while they wait. And then she builds her tale of mental illness, how she goes to camp for counselling and gets to be with others who have the same habits.

She gives some audience members things to hold as she reveals that her and David are taking a break. It all seems a bit too much for her as she tries to keep it all together but her illness is exhausting to her. People tell her to stop keeping track, stop looking at the numbers. But that’s like telling someone to walk around without shoes. “It’ll be good for you!”

Casemore wrote this solo show and it is directed by Beth Dart. The premise of waiting for a performance and then realizing that this was actually the production was a bit jarring and made connecting with Jenna a bit harder.

Casemore is nervous and awkward as Jenna and illustrates her struggles with illness. The work is a bit rough, but presents a character who is laying down bits of herself so that she can be found.

Ghost River Theatre’s presentation of Defiance Theatre’s OCD runs until February 10th. More information is available online.

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