By Jay Menard
The ADHD Project is a wonderfully told story of Carlyn Rhamey’s life with ADHD. It’s a story that’s filled with warmth, humour, a touch of sadness, and hefty dose of uplifting messaging that combines to have you fall in love with the story and the storyteller alike.
It’s hard not to like Rhamey. She’s vibrant, engaging, and fills the room with the force of her personality and joy. She punctuates many lines with a wonderfully expressive face and body language — which makes her moments of sadness and melancholy all the more jarring. Her story is crafted in such a way that we feel her highs and lows, and are not mere spectators, but partners in her quest to understand who she is, how her brain works, and where she fits in a society that’s all too quick to put people with ADHD in a box.
Rhamey weaves multiple characters throughout her story. She talks about her relationship with her parents and siblings, impersonates bullies and “friends” whom she encounters along the way, and even takes a stab at replicating the French accent of her collegiate disability services councillor (though, to be fair, her “French” has a healthy dose of Tony Montana-era Pacino in it — and, to also be fair, she’s fully aware of her French “prowess.”)
The story begins and centres around her Grade Three and Four years, where she’s transitioned out of the general class and into a “Spec Ed” program. She shares the good and the bad — the former being the individualized support she received; the latter being the isolation inflicted by a youth culture that’s quick to exclude — or worse — anyone that’s deemed different.
She then proceeds through subsequent years — from discovering performing in later elementary school (complete with a Dopey-inspired epiphany — trust me on this one), to finding her way through high school and college. To eventually discovering her dual passions of theatre and supporting the educational needs of people with disabilities.
In the end, Rhamey finds a way to reconcile the good and the bad of her neurodiversity, and provides wonderful encouragement for those either living with neurodiversity — or living with someone with neurodiversity. And whether you’ve had personal experience with it or not, it’s a story that at once opens the mind and touches the heart.
This review originally appeared on theatreinlondon.ca