Offbeat tale of love, relationships and OCD at the Riverbank

Fred and Alice at the Riverbank Arts Centre.
‘Fred & Alice’ is a play about two people who fall in love. Nothing unusual there, but the protagonists in this Callback Theatre piece, written by John Sheehy, are both living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

‘Fred & Alice’ is a play about two people who fall in love. Nothing unusual there, but the protagonists in this Callback Theatre piece, written by John Sheehy, are both living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

“That’s basically the premise, but I’ve been careful not to ‘label’ them with the illness,” the director told the Leinster Leader.

‘Fred & Alice - Love In The Time Of OCD’ comes to the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge on Wednesday week, April 30, as part of a nationwide tour f unded by the Arts Council.

The characters, played by Ciaran Bermingham and Cora Fenton, first met in a home, and the play tracks their lives afterwards. Alice is obsessed with numbers, Fred music, and the play follows their relationship and coping strategies with life as they move towards independent living.

The characters originated in a two-minute improvisation Sheehy put together when he was studying drama in Cork. “The characters came form that and I had it in the back of my head I would love to develop them further, and I got around to it years later.”

Both Fred and Alice contain aspects of Sheehy himself. “Depression is a theme of the play. I don’t suffer from it myself, but we can all relate on some level as there’s days we don’t want to get out of bed and I imagined an extension of that. Both have underlying OCD tendancies, and that would be a common trait with me to a lesser degree - I’d be conscious of avoiding cracks on the pavement.”

While the play explores the dark side of living with a mental health condition, it is also a madcap comedy. “It’s a celebration of these two characters,” said Sheehy, noting that it celebrates their differences and what makes them special.

Next up for Call Back Theatre is ‘The Hole’, which is being performed as part of Limerick City of Culture, and tells the tale of two ill-matched neighbours.

‘Fred & Alice’ is onstage at the Riverbank Arts Centre on Wednesday, April 30, and there will be a post-show discussion. Tickets at €15 can be booked at 045 448324 or www.riverbank.ie