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Fringe Festival Part 3: First Hand Woman

Posted by Sarah / June 19, 2008

First Hand WomanI'm always a little uneasy when it come to going to see anything that's specifically geared towards a women audience. Maybe it's the eternal cynic in me, but I usually have a pretty hard time really getting into those things. I find they easily fall into preachiness or unrealistic hopefulness, which is something I like to stay away from. However, when I asked my good friend Craig what I should go see, he told me I should balance acts I really want to see with other things I'd never EVER go see. So, in an effort to try new things, bring you readers a variety of play reviews, and to put my fantastic media pass to good use, I decided to experiment both sides of the fence. This was the dark side of the fence for me: I was stepping into something I was expecting to be boring and common. First Hand Woman took me by surprise and totally drew me in from all sides: emotional, performance, technically - it's my highlight of the festival so far.

The actresses are amazing: very believable, and more gorgeous one than the other, their acting leaves nothing to be desired. Technically speaking, the play is extremely well put together. The lights and sound undergo smooth transitions that accommodate the mood without being too apparent. The blocking is original and offers interesting movement to a play that could easily sit still.

I don't want to tell you what the play is about, but I will tell you that the five actresses portray the five stages of grief, which are personalized as five separate personalities of a single person. The idea is original and the writing makes it work in a way that seems effortless (but certainly isn't - there's clearly a lot of work that's been put into this).

As far as the writing goes, playwright Sarah Michelle Brown (also acting in the play) shows tremendous talent. Using a formula not unlike Sex and the City, this play features five extremely different characters that all make up different parts ourselves, which I think inevitably connects us in some way or another to at least one of them. This formula also allows us to get deeper understanding different personaes by helping us focus on the different layers of a single extreme at the time. The relationships between the characters are special and interesting, as well as the actresses' play amongst themselves.

Without being preachy, the play does have parts where it felt a little like a self-help book, however, it does have a certain something that strongly appeals to someone like me who despises the stuff. The play does lead you into reflection, but also knows how to make you laugh. Though the girls beside me were crying by the end :S - I didn't find it sad as much as I felt so tall and great when I came out. The overall play breathes professionalism and is definitely one you should treat yourself to by the end of the Fringe. Arrive early: the room fills up quickly.

Playing at the Portugese Association (Venue 7):
19 Jun @ 17.30
21 Jun @ 12.45
22 Jun @ 21.00


Photo provided by Fire Up Productions

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