Weird is a one woman play that explores issues of mental health, specifically OCD, in an immensely accessible and intriguing way.
The show starts when we discover Yasmin (Amy Doyle) has left her third year at university. She appears slightly ‘weird’ and has bizarre traits, but other than this, seems fairly ‘normal’. We are then taken back to Yasmin’s past, shown her experiences and how they have led her to develop severe obsessive compulsive disorder and anorexia. Weird examines small scenes from her childhood and teenage years at school. They at first seem trivial, but end up being pivotal to Yasmin’s life, and therefore the context of the play.
Doyle has me hooked from the moment she starts performing and keeps one engaged throughout the show. She fills the stage with confidence that allows us to sit back and enjoy the performance. She accurately portrays many different quirky characters, seamlessly swapping between them without a single fault. From her paranoid mum, to her irritating next door neighbour and rude classmate, she commits to every character with vigour. Doyle fearlessly holds eye contact with the audience and boldly shares the conversational script with everyone in the room. The intimate setting helps to create a very personal tone, and it’s hard not to feel connected to Doyle as she tells Yasmin’s story.
Lucy Burke’s brilliant script then gradually releases small hints about Yasmin’s mental illness, and how it is consuming her life. It’s very witty and some of the language is crude, which feels authentic and honest. In this modern age of mental health awareness, the whole thing feels very relevant and poignant. Fortunately, at no point did it feel ‘sorry for itself’, which is a issue with some plays addressing mental health. Instead it manages to find humour in moments of deep tragedy and never begs for sympathy.
It briefly explores the deep rooted issues behind why Yasmin has found herself with these conditions. But this small exploration of her psyche feels appropriate, in what could easily become a deeply psychological play. However, this contained investigation allows the play to remain open to all of the audience. It focuses more on the emotions and feelings, rather than the cause of her OCD. Perhaps some more intellectually inclined people would yearn for this side of it to be disclosed, I, however, did not experience this and felt it made it much more accessible for all viewers.
This is a typical fringe performance, and with its finger on the pulse and relatable language, it’s hard not to enjoy it. It’s certainly a modern show and will fascinate older teens/young adults. But I also believe that it speaks to all, and older audiences will find it relates to them as well.
Overall, Weird is an extremely moving play and had me captivated from start to finish. A performance that leaves you chatting about it for hours.
Weird is playing at The Soho Theatre until 14 December. For more information and tickets, click here.