Review by: John Bandler
According to Wikipedia, “Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning . . .”
The “docudrama” A Little Too Close to Home takes on the tasks of dramatizing this disorder and exploring the disruptive effects on family life and relationships. Here, Robert is a painter, whose OCD escalates after one of his paintings is criticized, and “his family relives the same day over and over again in an attempt to reach perfection.”
The cast: Jordan Laffrenier (Robert, the father), Lucy Powis (Nicole, the mother), Luke Reece (Jacob, the son), and Kano Wilkinson (Doctor). A paint-spattered set (mirrored by paint-spattered costumes) serves as studio, bedrooms, washroom, doctor’s office, etc.
Nicole often tells us she doesn’t like “cliché love.” I found myself wondering about the significance of this specific revelation. Perhaps it serves as a leitmotif. On the other hand, Robert says his problem is, “I work so hard and I have nothing.” More to the point, he terrorizes his family and sidelines and traumatizes Jacob while Nicole (with Jacob’s help) struggles to hold the family together.
Dramatizing a psychological disorder can inform the public, can illuminate a serious health issue, and can help in boosting our empathy for the people affected. Here, I found Kano Wilkinson a tad too softly spoken and not overly authoritative as a doctor.
I also confess to a bias. I have a problem with repetition (ironically, the theme of this play). Thoughts creep into my mind along the lines, I get it. Now tell me, or preferably show me, something new. Give me further insight into the seriousness of the issue or delve deeper into the characters. I’m craving depth.
Given my bias, however, I must say that I found this show engrossing and I recommend it, particularly if you are new to the idea of OCD. As the drama escalated, heading from first love to possible family breakup, I felt drawn in by the frequent tender vignettes.