Review by: Beverly Horton
There was a young woman who cried throughout the performance of A Little Too Close to Home I attended. She was sitting in the first row.
I rarely sit in the first row. I find it too close to see the play well.
The playwrights describe A Little Too Close to Home as a “docudrama” that focuses on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and “follows a painter’s journey to accepting and overcoming a disorder that tries to tear his world apart.”
In the play, Robert (played by Jordan Laffrenier), his wife, Nicole (played by Lucy Powis) and son, Jacob (played by Luke Reece) work through a series of “Aversion Therapy” sessions to help them understand and cope with Robert’s OCD. Like a needle in the groove of an old record, the family is stuck reliving the events of April 19th, “trying to get it right.”
These therapy sessions provide the narrative structure for the play. Kano Wilkinson plays the therapist who offers exercises to help the family members alter and ultimately rid themselves of the ritualized behaviours and equally-ritualized thoughts “too close to home” for them to see clearly.
Ever-so-slight variations in these rituals mark the efficacy of the therapy.
At one point in the play, a pas de deux gives artistic shape to one of these variations. Jordan Laffrenier and Lucy Powis dance and count out steps that mirror the behavior- and thought- rituals Robert and Nicole “dance” each day. This scene is performed beautifully and lit perfectly.
For me, the play worked more compellingly and powerfully as a meditation on OCD than as a dramatic documentation of Robert’s struggle to cope with the disorder. That’s definitely not a bad thing. Treated with less thoughtfulness and artistic sensibility, A Little Too Close to Home could have devolved into nothing more than a series of scenes featuring frenetic hand-washing.
Inasmuch as the play is about OCD, it encourages its audience to reflect on the dynamic relationship between physical proximity, emotional impact, and analytical distance.
I may see A Little Too Close to Home again.
I doubt that I’ll sit in the first row, but I will sit a bit closer than I did the first time.