Review: Ladybones

Archaeologist Nuala unearths a skeleton and her ordered life starts to unravel. Digging into the mystery of the bones, can she handle the chaos of what she discovers?

Ladybones is an uplifting and compelling story, based on writer-performer Sorcha McCarffrey’s personal experience of OCD, dungarees and being weird (but not a weirdo).

The play was interesting, exploring OCD, the digging up of bones, probing the past and an adult disability group staging Hamlet. All of the stories were engaging, although it was a lot to fit into an hour: it meant that the closure of some storylines felt rushed and missed the impact they could have had.

Stylistically, the play felt like a participatory version of Fleabag (which is a reference I acknowledge will be applied to most one-women plays at the moment, and one I’ve chosen purposefully). Told in a continuous monologue, McCarffrey’s characters are cleverly brought to life with considered descriptions and exaggerated features that grab the audience’s attention.

There was an interesting queer storyline that started to develop throughout Ladybones, looking at Nuala’s sexuality and the differences between romance and comfort. It would have been interesting to see this explored further, though it would have been challenging alongside the other themes of the play. Regarding the exploration of OCD, I didn’t get quite as much out of this as I would have liked to, and enjoyed the stage presentation of it through counselling sessions and audience engagement.

I very much appreciated the audience participation throughout Ladybones. On arriving, audiences were given pink stickers if they wanted to participate – but there was no pressure to get involved. This is the first time I’ve been presented with the option, and I really appreciated it. It’s certainly something I’d like to see adopted more often.

As a whole, the play was sharp and funny – when it hit the mark it delivered really well. A good piece that needed a little bit of tightening but certainly worth a watch.

© Megan Holland 2020

Ladybones was a part of PUSH Festival at HOME, Manchester. PUSH Festival runs until the 1st Feb, 2020, for further information and booking details please visit their website.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 18.44.51

Image @ Alex Brenner

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