11 August 2017
The Only Good Indian (B+)
It’s difficult to grade this solo show from Pandemic Theatre because half its runtime is just a “long table” discussion that will surely be completely different every day (the one I attended was heady and somewhat confrontational though smartly moderated by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard) and the actual performance section is heavily personal, a (mostly) different text delivered by any one of three (very) different artists- Jiv Parasram, Tom Arthur Davis, or St. Bernard. I’ve only seen Parasram’s version of the show, and even then I’ve only seen this one particular day of Parasram’s version of the show. I can tell you that he’s an engaging storyteller and compellingly vulnerable protagonist, and that the performance text could use refinement to ease the awkward shifts between the 60% personal story that is unique to Parasram’s version and 40% academic lecture that is consistent across performers. Ultimately I can’t predict what The Only Good Indian will look like for you- it could be far better or worse than a B+ on any given day- because it only really existed exactly as I experienced it this one time for this one group of witnesses.
What Linda Said (B)
Priscila Uppal’s life-inspired fantastical rumination on friendship and mortality is balanced on a deeply moving idea- what if your recently deceased friend (in this case Linda Griffiths as played by Tracey Hoyt) were able to visit you one last time to help you survive the disease that took her before you could say goodbye. The script is funny and intriguing but needs tightening and more stylistically clear-headed direction.
Let’s Try This Standing (B-)
Gillian Clark’s solo show about the traumatic accident that partially paralyzed her leg and completely altered her life suffers from a forced performance and strange structure. Clark emphasizes the importance of intimacy and wanting the show to feel like a conversation but she delivers her story like a memorized speech rather than a true confessional. At one point she checked in with Daniel Oulton- the onstage stage manager/projection artist/sound designer- to make sure she was starting the next section correctly but the improvised moment was a relief despite being a gaff, just a small moment when Clark’s practiced performance took a back seat to her immediate needs. There’s strength in the vulnerability of Clark’s story but in her performance she shies away from showing what actually makes her most compelling.
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