Two women. Two stories. Two very different ways the mind can wage a war with itself are combining into one double-bill of Edmonton International Fringe Festival stand-outs.
First, we have Louise Casemore’s OCD: a hopeful comedy about a young woman trying to come into her own, but struggling with a mental disorder that’s holding her back. In 2015, the original production was greeted with a sold-out run at the Fringe and high praise—Vue gave it five stars.
“It’s anchored in wanting to acknowledge that, strangely, obsessive-compulsive disorder being an anxiety-born illness has kind of been usurped by the general public to be really anyone with any degree of hygiene or cleanliness,” says Casemore, who commands the role of both playwright and performer for OCD. “So the show, in its own way, serves to remind people that there is a huge reality of sufferers out there that goes well above and beyond an inclination to straighten cereal boxes.”
Since everyone’s experience with the disorder is different, Casemore is careful to tell a unique narrative.
“The words obsessive-compulsive disorder are never mentioned during the show,” Casemore says. “This is a person who suffers from it, for sure, but it’s not necessarily how she identifies, or her identity.”
Second, we have Cat Walsh’s eleven-oh-four: a dark comedy about an insomniac whose sleepless nights lead to a haze-fuelled fixation on her noisy next-door neighbours. Winning the 2014 Sterling Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress, eleven-oh-four was also nominated that year in the category of Outstanding New Play.
“I would call it almost a bit of a comedy-thriller, in a way,” Casemore explains. “Because you’re dealing with a woman’s thoughts in the dark, all alone, at night and how noises can become something they’re not. And sleeplessness, as a thing, is a pretty jarring experience that really starts to blur the lines of reality.”
Though originally produced in different years, both Walsh and Casemore share the common experience of what Casemore describes as the “ambition and terror” in revealing these one-woman shows to the public. Now they are eager to be working as a team in renewing these plays, and Casemore is quick to note the power of coming together.
“With this double bill, I think the biggest learning tool has been just unite yourself with other people,” she says. “There is so much to gain by collaboration.”
Sun, Mar 20 – Tue, Mar 22 (8 pm)
El Cortez, $25