Pros: Painfully autobiographical.
Cons: This show is not for those seeking entertainment.
Have you ever wondered what happens inside the head of a person diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? How many times have you made jokes about ‘having OCD’ after lining up the pens on your desk or organising your wardrobe in chromatic order? I did this many times, and attending Sam Ross’s devised performance Can’t Stop Can’t Stop gave me a rare insight of how debilitating the actual condition is.
The performance starts with a gut-punch scene in which we find Sam in the throes of his compulsive reactions. The audience sits in a single row along the four walls of a small room without windows: the space is claustrophobic, and the proximity to what seems like an uncontrolled fit is uncomfortable. The shock effect works, as I see those around me shifting awkwardly on their seats.
Like going down a spiral staircase, we witness Sam’s perceptions and reactions becoming progressively stronger, as he willingly exposes himself to the objects and shapes that trigger his OCD. Meanwhile, he duly explains what happens in his brain at these moments, and how the disorder is able to override the conscious understanding of a situation. It is, sometimes, hard to take, but necessary, nonetheless, to get a better grasp of this often-misunderstood condition.
His disturbingly genuine fits are a sobering sight, which some people might be too sensitive for; this isn’t a show for those in search of pure entertainment. The tension that Sam creates on stage is so intense that, right before his concluding speech, someone in the audience breaks down in tears, covering the performer’s voice with their sobs. It is an unsettling experience and a painful reminder that, although hard to diagnose, OCD is an exhausting condition which requires years of therapy and medication.
Can’t Stop Can’t Stop is educational theatre at its best, and Sam Ross’s bravery in putting up this show has reached its objective to touch the audience in their deepest.
Devised By: Sam Ross
Producer: Sam Does Theatre
Box Office: 0131 581 5555
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/can-t-stop-can-t-stop
Booking Until: 27 August 2018