Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: (Toronto) Spilling Family Secrets (Fringe)

Love's Labour Won
by Lisa McKeown

Written by Susan Freedman, this piece is a one-woman show that tells the story of her parents' blissful marriage by way of their love letters to each other in the 1920s and 30s.

Freedman points out that when your parents have a beautiful marriage, they make it look easy. She had to find out the hard way that things are not quite as simple as they appeared to her growing up. She has excellent storytelling skills, weaving the romantic and the comedic, the frustrating and sad together into a beautiful juxtapositioning of the evolution of her parents growing intimacy with moments from her childhood as well as her initial, awkward attempts at finding love. 

"I got separated from my husband and eight weeks later I got remarried," she says at one point. "Let me repeat that for you," she smirks, after the audience murmurs and gasps. As a kind of romantic touch, she includes photos of the letters, along with photos of her parents and herself at various points over the century. And the contrast between these stories is powerful, as we watch two people fall more and more in love, while Freedman herself got more and more frustrated until she met her husband Bill (who she refused to marry for years until she was really, really sure, she assures us.) 

The audience was packed, and she had them in the palm of her hand the entire time. And while this may be an issue of personal taste, the only criticism I'd make is that some of the physical gestures she made to punctuate the story were a bit corny. Then again, they got great reactions from the audience, so that might have been an example of an aesthetic generation gap. Regardless, her story had me laughing throughout and welling up by the end. Definitely a great choice! 

July 2 - 13

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