Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: (Montreal) I, Claudia

Would you be 12 years old again?
Geordie brings Claudia to Montreal
by Nanette Soucy

Can parents of 12-year olds, besought by the stuff of parenthood, have an accurate idea of what it’s like to be one of these “tweens” we hear about now? If they have a memory of being a “pre-teen”, in today’s reality it’s completely irrelevant.  While you’re struggling with the new Facebook layout, their entire emotional landscape is being shaped by the compelling exhibitionism and creative self design that the Internet is made from. When they feel like escaping, they disappear into their screens.

Touring since 2005, Kristen Thomson’s I, Claudia has become a Canadian classic.

Claudia, on the other hand, isn’t like the other kids. She might not have the token cell phone of today’s youth, but she certainly knows the mean girls. She prefers to disappear into the Bulgonian Groundskeeper’s boiler room to make scientific observations on her goldfish, and miss her Dad, who has recently left. She only gets to see him on the weekends, so Tuesday mornings, like every bad day when you're 12 3/4, are the worst days of her life. 

Touring since 2005, Kristen Thomson’s I, Claudia has become a Canadian classic. It beautifully and brazenly reminds us of the features of every thirteen-year-old's emotional landscape that have since become underbrush beneath our full-grown selves. Claudia experiments with language, uses words, gestures, expressions she doesn't quite understand, flirts with dirty jokes she knows are cheeky, but maybe not how. This is in contrast to her grandfather, who knows exactly what he's saying when musing about nurses and restraints in retirement homes. 

Parents prone to clutching pearls may balk at Claudia’s precociousness, but Thomson’s characters strike a balance between youth and adulthood that underline the similarities between them, while their masks give them a life so true, they’re hilarious.  Claudia’s angst is so visceral, it makes one relive one’s own twelfth year, and we can’t but suddenly love every young girl, ever and want to soothe her pain and dance along as her awkward frame conjures a disco sanctuary out of a murky, greasy boiler room. This is a show every teenager should take their parents to. 

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