Shopfront Theatre, Coventry, review: Mademoiselle F
Mademoiselle F, Shopfront Theatre, Coventry, June 9-12
by Barbara Goulden
There will be few more extraordinary performances than than this 90-minute production to mark Theatre Absolute's storm back on to Coventry's cultural scene.
When I first read about the themes of this new play - mental illness, isolation and polar bears, I could barely resist a smirk.
But there was little to laugh about in Miriam Edwards' gripping reincarnation of Mademoiselle F, the first real life patient to be identified as suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, back in 1838.
Books and scientific research have all stemmed from the true story of the young French woman who is known to have left her aunt's home convinced that she had taken some substance - she had no idea what - which required her to make incessant checks of her own body.
Playwright Vanessa Oakes, an associate of Theatre Absolute, created the inner turmoil on the page but it was the performance of Miriam Edwards that gripped the audience by the throats and simply refused to let go.
And yes, there is a polar bear. Part polar bear, part nurse, part figment of our imagination.
Actor Tyrone Huggins needs no costume to highlight to the hapless mademoiselle how the whole world is in the grip of its own OCD as we relentlessly check our planet, note the destruction we are inflicting, then carry on regardless.
Anyone would think we were all in need of a psychiatrist.
For tickets visit: www.theatreabsolute.co.uk or call 07799 292957.