After a crash course in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in my first Fringe show, Can’t Stop Can’t Stop, I was more than ready to learn more with WEIRD – another piece about the illness with a focus on its effects on those around the sufferer. With a brilliant script and strong solo performer, this is another solid example of effective mental health awareness through theatre.
Yasmin feels different, she feels weird. She longs to be normal like everyone else but that’s proving difficult… Based on writer Lucy Burke’s experiences, WEIRD explores the highs and lows of what it is like for a sufferer. Told through flashbacks to the relationships that have shaped Yasmin’s life, Weird revolves around the effects of one person’s mental health on a whole family.
WEIRD‘s superb script is what makes this show so good at what it sets out to do. A concoction of comedy and sincerity packages up this story into an accessible form for audiences. It is incredibly descriptive, subliminally echoing the level of detail that OCD sufferers go to to ensure coping mechanisms and routines are followed.
The plot introduced themes slowly and carefully, drip-feeding them into the story like the OCD crept into her life. It frankly questions what is normal, and society’s concept that some kinds of ‘weird’ are deemed acceptable, however OCD may never be truly accepted.
There are moments of structural repetition, particularly with the jokey asides, that could have been tweaked for me, purely to keep pace after the story was set up but overall it is truly captivating and touches on important issues, namely catching mental health when young and the belief of being in control when you in reality are far from it.
The piece is delivered brilliantly by Charlotte Whitaker. She does a great job at drawing the audience into the story and is incredibly versatile as an actress, easily portraying a number of diverse characters in the story and making clear distinctions between them. Immediately funny and likeable, she is the perfect guide for Lucy’s story.
Funny, engaging and charismatic – WEIRD is a solid piece of theatre built for today’s fight against the mental health stigma; a must-watch for anyone going through Lucy’s experiences and for those wanting to learn more and show support.
WEIRD is at the Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Two as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. Tickets available online.
My Edinburgh trip was supported by the Network of Independent Critics! Find out more about their work here.