- Gareth K Vile
- 6 August 2019
Worthy but formulaic solo about mental health
While the portrayal of mental health – in this case OCD – has advanced in the last decade, the genre is now taking on a distinctive set of tropes and structures, rendering personal experience as an uncomplicated narrative through illness to redemption. While Ladybones adds an intriguing subplot about a stolen skull, the archaeology of historical oppressions and nascent sexual awakenings, it cleaves to the now-familiar progression from establishing a likeable protagonist, the protagonist feeling the onset of symptoms, the triumph of illness and a return to home that begins the healing.
The protagonist Nuala is certainly a rounded character: struggling with sexuality and OCD, her enthusiasm for archaeology, her awkward relationship with her therapist, her love for her sister and imaginative response to the past is eloquently portrayed by Sorcha McCaffrey. McCaffrey's easy rapport with the audience establishes a sympathy for Nuala's conflicts, and a sense of celebration when she begins to handle both her OCD attacks and sexual identity.
The script depicts the detail of OCD in a compassionate manner, even if some of the episodes are predictable. McCaffrey styles it out and throws in a pyschedelic scene of disorientation which brings home the effect of OCD with a cunning and subtle theatricality. Ladybones falls too easily into a familiar and generic narrative pattern but is redeemed by a charming, quirky, and winning performance.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 12, 19), 11.25am, £9–£11 (£8–£10).