Did you know that about 93% of the world’s population has an obsession? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. Its symptoms are obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and there are countless types of it. Stress is a major cause of the disease. Many people now suffer from obsessive compulsion because stress has become a routine part their busy lives. Here is a comedy play which has ‘obsessive compulsion’ as a theme. It is called TOC TOC- Troubles Obsessionnels Compulsifs Talk Of Complex. How did the play turn this heavy subject of ‘obsession’ into a comedy? Also, what message did the play want to convey to the audience?
Fred: This character suffers from ‘Tourette Syndrome’, which makes him occasionally curse, even in an inappropriate situation. He is a warm-hearted man, but was misunderstood by many people all the time because of his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. This resulted in him being alone in life until he was over 60. He gets to open his heart to patients who gather for group therapy since nobody considered him strange.
Vincent: This character suffers from a ‘Arithmomania’, a kind of OCD, which makes him count everything he notices all day long, counting every hour into minutes, and seconds. He divorced his wife because of it, but still does not realize himself that this is weird. He even thinks that he is the only one who is normal among the people who gathered in Dr. Sten’s office.
Blanche: This character suffers from ‘Pathophobia’, which makes her fear germs and illnesses, and considers everything around her as bacteria itself. This makes her wash her hands several times an hour. Since she cannot touch or be touched by anyone, many people view her as an icy woman, but she is actually a warm-hearted person.
Marie: This character suffers from an obsession, which makes her continuously check whether she has fastened a gas valve and a faucet, locked the door well, brought a key, and so on. Since she has a blind faith in God, she thanks God for every good thing that happens to her, leading to many people around criticizing her.
Lily: This character suffers from ‘Palilalia’, which makes her speak every single word twice, and ‘Echolalia’, which makes her repeatedly follow what others say. She avoids speaking in front of many people due to an obsession she got after her father passed away. However, she never endures injustice and stands against it. In these cases, she manifestly delivers her voice even if she speaks them twice.
Bob: This character suffers from ‘Line Phobia’, which makes him fear every line on the floor, and an obsession that makes him obsessed with symmetry. Since he loves symmetry, he likes the color green, which is the center color of the rainbow, and his name is even Bob, which is symmetrical. Moreover, since he has a fit whenever he steps a line, he has to calculate the distance before he moves.
Six different people suffering from different OCDs happen to gather in the office of Dr. Stan, a famous psychiatrist, in order to get cured by him. However, Dr. Stan is nowhere, and the six patients in the office made up their mind just to wait for him. In his long absence, they start to talk to each other, and even play a board game all together, but in the end Dr. Stan does not come. These 6 patients plan to do a group therapy, which is to help one another to overcome their disorders. Since they each have different OCDs, they get to face communication problems, and eventually not even one of them succeeds in treatment. However, they realize that there was a time when they forgot their obsession. Blanche had once lost her chance to care about her cleanliness looking after crying Lily, and Vincent did not count how many times he had shouted out ‘Bob’ to cheer him up. Bob hurriedly ran on the floor ignoring the lines to get the water for collapsed Marie, and Marie also was able to get rid of other worries while fighting with Vincent. As Lily only spoke once to write down Bob’s phone number, all of them were finally in the process of getting rid of their obsession little by little. Though all of them failed to fully treat their OCDs, they saw the possibility of treatment from not showing any signs of OCD even once. In the end, they get to return to their homes without any help by Dr. Stan.
3. What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Before watching the play ‘TOC TOC’, you need to know what OCD is. OCD is a condition in which a particular thought, regardless of one’s will, comes to mind and gets to repeat certain actions in order to get rid of the anxiety. Patients with OCD often repeat actions that others find abnormal. However, not all OCD patients are in serious condition or need treatment since most of the population is suffering from it, and there is a deviation in the seriousness. OCD patients usually recognize that their actions are irrational, but eventually show symptoms in order to relieve their anxiety immediately. So far, it has been defined as a brain disorder, but even an extreme stress can develop this obsession.
4. Message of Healing the Play Gives
“The miracle will happen when we think of others before ourselves.” This line contains the message that the play aimed to convey. In the play ‘TOC TOC’, the characters were able to get rid of their obsessions even without Dr. Stan’s treatment. Was this possible through their own determination? Certainly not. They were able to overcome their difficulties because they were all together in a single room. In the past, they were so busy thinking about themselves that they had never cared about anything other than themselves. This may have exacerbated their obsessions. As they began to give little attention to themselves, they could become less sensitive to what they always cared about, and, in the end, they could not even think about the stress they got from their obsessions. This shows that they helped and healed one another. It gave the audience something to think about regarding the power of the word ‘together’. Like the line mentioned above, no miracle will ever happen by worrying alone.
5. Criticism of Our Busy Society
The play ‘TOC TOC’ seems to contain criticism of our society. OCD is originally a disease that happens by abnormalities in the brain’s nervous system, but as mentioned earlier, stress can also lead to deterioration of it. Our society turns so fast that we soon find ourselves exhausted. Looking at modern people who are now used to feeling stressed, it is understandable why more than 90 percent of the world’s population has an obsession. The six characters in the play are also those who are tired of their daily lives. The play takes a critical look at our hectic lives and the way people run in their lives. Audiences watching the play will also have major and minor conflicts, and some may already be stressed out. These people will naturally be able to find healing by laughing while watch the play TOC TOC. This may be the reason why the play became a comedy.
The play tells the story of an obsession that everyone may have. Six obsessive-compulsive patients were able to heal their own diseases without the help of a doctor and impress the audience in the process. Our society is moving so fast, but this cannot be the reason for people to not care about others. Busy days are inevitable, but why don’t you take a look around?
Location: Daehak-ro TOM Art Center 2
Time: Weekdays 20:00 / Weekends, Holidays 15:00, 18:00
Ticket Prices: 40,000 won (40% discount available for university students)
Contact: 02-766-6007< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >