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ARTS & CULTUREPERFORMANCE
Say What is on Your Mind—TOC TOC
Lee Hye Min  |  min4562@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2016.12.04  23:55:07
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As the title TOC TOC—Troubles Obsessionnels Compulsifs Talk Of Complex—implies, six patients of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) gather in Dr. Stan’s office to find solutions to each of their own problems. However, they do not look like lunatics, as many people think of when they hear the word “mentally ill.” Instead, they look just like us—they talk, love, fight, help, and care about each other. In today’s society, where everyone suffers from big or small illnesses of the mind, TOC TOC soothes the heart of many people by sending the message of comfort, courage and hope.

 

   
 
 
The play TOC TOC was first staged in France, 2005. It was written by a famous French writer, Laurent Baffie. After its debut, it became one of the most favored long-running shows in Paris, running for two and a half years. TOC TOC also succeeded globally, by having more than 1,500 performances in Spain, Argentina, and Mexico over five years. Until now, it is regularly staged and loved in Canada, Belgium, Netherlands and many other countries all over Europe. After this world-famous record, TOC TOC is finally staged in Korea for the first time, starting from this October.
 
The main characters of the play are six OCD patients, who happen to encounter each other on their visit to meet a famous psychiatrist, Dr. Stan, in order to cure their disorders. However, Dr. Stan is not in office on the day of their visit due to an unexpected flight delay. In the absence of the doctor, the patients start to talk, play games, and even fight with each other, later developing into their own self-healing group therapy. The process is portrayed in a humorous manner, but they are not humiliated. Rather, in the end, the patients all become heroes to each other. Whether they have cured their disease or not is actually not important— the important thing is that they took courage, tried to face the fear, and shared this process with good partners.
 
   
▲ Six patients talking about group therapy. Provided by Hnewsculture.
 
Every character has symptoms that prevent themselves from interacting with others in society, but at the same time, these symptoms are what make them so adorable and special to the audiences. Fred, an old man who suffers from Tourette’s disorder, has to curse occasionally even in the most inappropriate situation. Vincent, a taxi-driver, had been faced with divorce because he has to calculate everything, from dawn to sunset. Blanche suffers nosophobia, which is fear towards germ and disease. Marie-Claire is a typical OCD patient, and Bob is afraid of lines.
 
Lily’s symptom looks inconspicuous at first as she barely opens her mouth. However, after several attempts of other members to figure out her symptom, it turns out that she suffers from palilalia, so that she has to repeat every word exactly twice. However, the five other patients never make fun of her like the other people she met in the society. Instead, they try hard to find a virtue of speaking everything twice, encouraging her to speak longer and more frequently.
 
   
▲ Lily, Vincent and Mary playing Monopoly. Provided by Yamstage.
 
Just like how the characters in the play encourage each other to confront their fears, the writer of the play, Baffie, said that he wanted to break the prejudice and stereotypes people have about OCD patients. One of the most prominent and misleading pieces of information about OCD is that people consider it as one’s lack of will, or a peculiarity, rather than an actual disease. Thus, when patients suffer from their symptoms, others blame them for not controlling their characteristics wisely. However, in the play, the six patients black out or have an epileptic fit when others try to do something against their will, proving that OCD is actually a disease that one cannot control with their own strength.
 
   
▲ The play TOCTOC performed in Spain. Provided by www.parabuenosires.com.
 
Therefore, the writer constantly reminds the viewers through the play that OCD patients should not be forced to fight against their disorders or be made fun of—rather, they should be encountered with more consideration and actual medical treatment. Furthermore, even though this is still a matter of debate, OCD is not incurable since it can be cured only partially through medical help and psychological therapy. Just like the six patients in the play who visited Dr. Stan’s office, numerous OCD patients are also trying hard to get over their diseases. Hearty supports from people around patients can also be one mild treatment, as the play suggests.
 
From the beginning to the very end, the play constantly makes the audiences laugh, applaud, and eventually burst into tears. Six characters, although a little bit problematic in their own lives, effectively heal the wounds and complexes of people living in modern society. TOC TOC tells the viewers about the virtue of being little crazy and quirky, and also not being afraid to courageously reveal one’s weaknesses. Furthermore, it reminds the audiences of how important it is to think of others more, than only about themselves. A man cannot scratch his own back, people say, and this is why people live together—to help, cover, and love each other’s flaws.
 
   
▲ The play TOCTOC performed in Spain. Provided by www.parabuenosires.com.
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