Review: Catherine Bohart: Immaculate at Pleasance Courtyard

Catherine Bohart opens her debut hour with an easy grace and a willingness to engage with the audience that belies her newcomer status.

Her steady confidence is perhaps informed by the knowledge that her set is an original one: as the bisexual, OCD suffering daughter of an Irish Catholic Deacon, Bohart can safely assume herself to be the only comic on the circuit with this unique experience to mine.

She begins by asking if anyone in the audience has suffered from OCD before launching into her experience of the illness and the subsequent treatment she received. The potentially tricky subject matter is handled well and the laughs flow thick and fast. Skillful comparisons are drawn between the rituals of her illness and the religious faith she was raised in before moving toward the true underpinning of the show: her family dynamic.

Bohart’s descriptions of her mother, father and siblings are at once hilarious and touching, candid and confusing. She tells the story of her father’s early years and of the close bond between them, strong enough to weather his decision to take on an official role within the Catholic Church in the same year that she opened up about her sexual identity. Rather than focusing on what divides them, she looks for the common ground, observing how both are particularly well versed in explaining their beliefs and experiences to those who will never truly understand.

In watching the show, the audience is privy not only to the intricacies of their relationship but to the wider intricacies of modern Ireland as it transforms from a relatively conservative society into one of the most progressive and politically engaged nations in Europe. Though on the surface it is Bohart’s struggle with mental illness and sexual identity that make up the heart of the show, this is what makes it truly special.

Catherine Bohart: Immaculate, Pleasance Courtyard, 5-26 Aug (not 14), 4.15pm

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