Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Call Back Theatre, 'Fred & Alice': Love in the Time of OCD

Bewley's Cafe Theatre, Dublin
Feb 6-23

I don't have time to do a full-length review of Fred & Alice, which I enjoyed.

In John Sheehy's new play two individuals diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder find each other in an institutionalised home and negotiate their way towards independent living and finding a home of their own.

Sheehy has written a playful script, almost with musical notation. I don't feel that the darker moments, such as Alice's account of her part in the demise of her kitten, quite balance with the lighter tone of the rest of the play - which is effectively managed. The purple prose in these moments just feels out of place. But the performances are engaging, especially the sprightly Cora Fenton.

What also strikes me is how the subject of mental illness in theatre, as also seen in Pat Kinevane's Silent and Dylan Tighe's Record, continues to be presented alongside with artistry - you have Valintino and the range of influences in Silent and Tighe's own music in Record - as if these creative outlets of communication are a means for frustrated characters to articulate and express themselves. On the other hand, psychological disorders may be exploited and used primarily as plot devices - as was some of the criticisms made of Carmel Winter's 2010 play B for Baby.

Was this the case with Fred & Alice? What did everyone else think?

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