The Loop is an autobiographical piece of theatre which tells the story of Olive and their experience living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The performance explores many dark themes including mental illness, substance misuse and makes reference to sexual abuse and suicide.
Olive Arlauskaitė (the writer of the show who also plays the main character ‘Olive'), is captivating and really drew the audience in from the moment she stepped on stage. The story is drawn from her personal experiences living with intrusive thoughts and she states in the programme that she created this piece to “be a reminder that people with OCD are not broken; our brains just work in a different way- and that's okay”. I think she does a great job at this. It was really interesting getting to see such an authentic representation of a mental health condition that is often misunderstood.
'The Loop’ follows Olive's journey as she attends Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions online with a therapist played by Michael Morgan. His character is irritating and robotic (which I think is exactly how you are supposed to view him). I loved the challenging dynamic between the two characters and I found that as the show went on, I got to witness subtle developments and changes in the characters' relationship that left me wanting more. I think this was heightened by the dark, intimate venue (The Lantern @ ACT) where this piece was performed.
One of my favourite features within the performance was the use of other languages. Both characters speak bilingually in the performance and when they do, the other character does not understand what the other said. I still am not fully sure on the exact intention behind this or even what languages were being spoken but I felt like this added a layer of complexity to the performance. The meaning of this could also be interpreted in so many different ways and it was interesting hearing different views on this once the show had finished.
However, I did find the piece to end at a strange point. Whilst the ending is somewhat optimistic to the future, myself and the rest of the audience seemed a little uncertain about whether the performance was over. It wasn’t until Olive and Michael returned to the stage for a bow that I realised the piece had ended. I think there just needed to be something a bit clearer as a final moment.
Overall, I found the piece to be eye-opening, emotional and engaging. I went into the venue with a limited knowledge about OCD and left with a better understanding of the condition and how it impacts people’s lives. I am even considering going to watch it again!