Ladybones @ Pleasance Courtyard

Based on personal experiences, this interactive play explores OCD and the chaos of being a modern woman

Review by Mirren Wilson | 14 Aug 2019
  • Ladybones

Writer and performer Sorcha McCaffrey was diagnosed with OCD in her 20s. After working with the Royal Court Writer’s Group and with support from the National Lottery Arts Council and OCD-UK, she brings her first play Ladybones to the Pleasance Courtyard to tell the tale of “being weird but not a weirdo”.

Nuala is an archaeologist who unearths the skeleton of a young girl and it’s all a bit overwhelming. Trying to deal with love interests or family is one thing, but add OCD and therapy sessions into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a struggle.

Yorkshire-born McCaffrey gives an energised performance. She really shines with her own fast-powered speeches, firing through one thousand thoughts a second as we reach a frazzling understanding of how OCD makes the brain think. What is lovely about Nuala is that she feels real, modern and accurately represented.

With some edgy writing, we are whizzed through a great deal of daily and mundane action. It does feel a little busy in terms of plot, with two stories running in parallel that don’t really connect as well as they could. The existential element from finding the skull has poetic writing but it’s extremely jarring – Nuala’s life is insightful and entertaining enough.

Audience interaction is always a tricky element to navigate, causing many people to live in fear and avoid eye contact. McCaffrey cleverly welcomes each individual member of the audience into the space and politely asks them whether or not they’d like to opt-in for interaction, scoring a bright pink sticker if the answer is “Yes!” That being said, it all seems a little unnecessary. It’s a fun idea but, with some unclear cues for the participants, the audience interaction distracts from the impact of the piece and it all feels slightly awkward.

Ladybones is messy at points, but so is OCD. Full of heart and energy it’s a fun watch that will make you smile and wonder what’s going on in someone else’s head.

Ladybones, Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Below), until 26 Aug (not 19), 11.25am, £8.50-10