Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hamilton Fringe Festival: Giving into Light

It's not easy to tell a story well. Often I find people's eyes wandering when I tell a story for too long, or go into too many digressions, or just lose the point. Claire will also attest that my idea of what is funny often differs from what other people find funny. I have told stories before that ended with me convulsed in laughter at things that no one else was amused by.

Alison Wearing knows how to tell a story really well. Her book, Honeymoon in Purdah is a funny, eye-opening account of a trip through modern Iran as a Canadian newlywed. I'd imagine that her one-woman play Giving into Light will become a book too, at some point in the future. I think it should be a DVD. The writing is impeccable; not a word is out of place. However, in a book, you would miss her performance; she does characters, dances, delivers jokes, and even sings beautifully. It is a breathtaking performance. My immediate response was to call family members and tell them we're going to see this show this weekend.

Wearing details the birth of her first child and how a condition that can only be described as post-partum elation led her to move to Mexico. The first section deals with how we respond to birth in Canada, while the second deals with how the Mexican women Wearing met understood birth and motherhood. The contrast is funny and enlightening and Wearing's portraits of various people she's known are rich and humane. She hasn't a mean bone in her body.

The result was the best play I've seen in a number of years. It's rarer than I'd like to admit that I am delighted by a work of art, but this was such an incident.

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