Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review: (Montreal) I Think My Heart Needs Glasses (Fringe)

Tragedy in a Comic Nutshell
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I will first tell you this: I Think My Heart Needs Glasses by and with Yana Kesala is astonishing.

Now I will tell you why.

When I saw Kesala's delightful work - The Ukrainian Dentist's Daughter - last year, I was charmed. But this year, folks, in a blistering, honest confessional she shows her acting chops, balancing on the high-wire between humour and her very personal tragedy and never falling off. Any actor will tell you that laughter through tears - one of theatre's great leitmotifs - is a difficult thing. The fact that you start by making your audience laugh and then brutalizing them with profound sadness can cause resistance in the house. Where we might have joined in on if it was pure sadness, after laughter we can so easily see as mawkish.

the cherry on the sundae - at 45 minutes the piece does not overstay its welcome for a second

But there were moments in this piece when I sensed the audience wasn't breathing; no one wanted to make a noise.

Moreover, it is both a complete work: with a chatty introduction to its "character", to the event that beats her down, to a realization which she first rejects and then is finally able to understand because she has come through a dark place. And - the cherry on the sundae - at 45 minutes the piece does not overstay its welcome for a second.

It is just Kesala, a bench, and an acted story which has a miraculous rhythm and a beautiful flow from goofiness to stillness and back again. And Kesala is, that's not right...has become a truly accomplished soloist (like Johanna Nutter, Jem Rolls or TJ Dawe) who can play her audience like a well-tuned instrument. She is both connected (as one can't help being in these tiny spaces) but also able to distance us during reflective moments.


I Think My Heart Needs Glasses is at The Montreal Fringe this week, but will also be performed at the Winnipeg Fringe.

Read also Yana Kesala's first-person piece on the creation  of the play

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