Sometimes I Adult is a solo show in four acts - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Recovery, Relapse - that sees Alice Sainsbury honestly and wittily divulge, tackle and stare down her ‘old man’ companion OCD. To help tell of her experiences, she arms herself with a loop pedal and a baritone ukulele with which she plays and sings songs from pop culture with re-written lyrics. The songs range from Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid to Stand By Me by Ben E King - an irreverent and joyous mix with a dual role of helping to protect the vulnerability within the work.
More than episodic cabaret, there is a sense of Alice giving in to all the frustrations, powerlessness and fuckery of an incessantly checking brain that conjures images of destruction and hurt if lightening-quick instructions are not followed. For example, if Alice doesn’t balance a casual moment of goodbye with her mother as she runs an errand by waving, jumping, clearing her throat and saying, 'I love you’ four times, her mother’s car will catch fire and her skin will melt off.
The capacity of a mentally distressed brain to conjure gruesome images resonates between many mental health issues. The show details their violent and graphic nature in a way that exposes the impact that this condition has on the performer and on the audiences. Audiences who will inevitably lie on a spectrum of being able to connect Alice’s experiences with their own or someone they know.
Underlying the work are a several dichotomies that arise in OCD recovery; simultaneously being overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts but determinedly ‘staring that fucker down in the face’. The unpredictable medication side effects alongside the disorientating relapses. The knowledge of never being able to live without OCD interweaved with the hope of one day getting over it.
All this looping, all this living, conjures another contradiction. Alice possesses a resilience from learning to manage her condition but alongside this, in moments when mental distress can strip the mind, this same resilience can feel like fuck all.
- Alexandrina Hemsley
Links Relevant to this Diagnosis:
Living With OCD - Samantha Pena (TEDxYouth)
OCD Information and Support - Mind