Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.
The ADHD Project
by Carlyn Rhamey
Squirrel Suit Productions
50 min / Comedy, Solo, Storytelling / PG
In the introductory moments of The ADHD Project, Carlyn Rhamey takes the form of gnome-like tour guide, giving us a brief overview of the neurodiverse brain that is set to entertain us for the next hour. With the help of a little caricature, Rhamey points out the various parts of the brain and it is a surprisingly helpful rundown that would not be at all out of place in a science show for kids. Rhamey then takes over as the owner of said brain and delivers tales of triumph and humiliation that are both utterly unique and yet so oddly universal.
Rhamey’s elastic facial expressions and knack for physicality are a big part of the pleasure in this show. She makes good use minimal blocking queues that tell the audience when she’s stepping into and out of another character. An energetic performer, her great use of space makes a fairly minimal stage feel utterly full. An easel is the only visual accompaniment and it bears a scattered and scrappy “map” of her storyline along with a string of Christmas lights for pizazz. Periodically throughout the show, Rhamey leaps into a short tangent or takes a water break and then appears to refer to the map to reorient. It’s a clever way to make a cheat sheet a seamless part of the show and it serves the story arc well, ensuring the side stories feel born out of organic excitement without wandering too far off course.
Rhamey draws some poignant scenes on the devastation of childhood bullying in the cutthroat social hierarchy of school. The audience is most definitely on her side when she finds her footing in drama and first learns her superpower for making others laugh as the Dopey dwarf in Snow White. We cheer for her through the challenges of receiving seemingly simple accommodations in university that appear to be barricaded behind fortresses of paperwork, and the whole room guffaws with delight when she reveals her eventual placement working in special education right in her very own former classroom where the “irony and karma” of her job is almost too much to handle.
This is a heartwarming and genuinely funny show that takes an honest look at the impact of ADHD without coming off as too much of an after-school-special. If you know anyone who is currently, or has ever been “the weird awkward kid,” bring them to enjoy this little toast to the atypical.
The ADHD Project by Carlyn Rhamey is playing at Studio Léonard-Beaulne (135 Séraphin-Marion) until Saturday June 17, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info.