Okay…I’m as sick as a particularly ill dog just now, can’t hardly speak, and my head and chest feel like they’re filled with pudding (in the non-wonderful way), so forgive me for being terribly late with this one, and I hope anything I write makes sense. Mustering up the meagre energy necessary even for basic bloggery can be a daunting task when you’re a precious, wilting flower like myself. But what’s art without suffering? I guess a Beach Boys album or something…nevermind, it was a rhetorical question!
So anyhow, a couple days ago I made it out to Arts Court for the second entry in TACTICS, the new little Theatre series that could. Having been kicked off with Evolution Theatre’s YOUNG LADY IN WHITE a ways back, it was time to keep the theatrical ball rolling courtesy of miss Lisa Jeans and her new piece, LIGHT. Shining said light on the occasionally taboo subject of eating disorders, the show follows Doctor Helen Rose, a brilliant Doctor with ambition, drive, a promising career, and a painfully calorie-free daily diet that she obsessively maintains, substituting coffee and running for balanced breakfasts. ‘You have to be light to fly’, as her recurring mantra goes…and when Doc Rose gets an idea in her head, she is nothing if not tenacious. Slowly but surely her relationships with her fiance and family suffer, her work falters, and her health and well-being teeter on the edge, all the while her belief in her quest for ‘perfection’ never faltering.
Aided by impressive sound and video work from Pixie Cram, Jason Sonier and Elizabeth MacKinnon, with guest-video cameos from some spiffy local Ottawa actors like Michelle LeBlanc, Tim Oberholzer, Mado Manseau and more, LIGHT is a daring and uncompromising theatrical punch to the gut. Lisa is a singular performer, and I loved the choice to make the protagonist both a doctor AND indisputably brilliant…someone who would seem to possess all the tools necessary to recognize a harmful eating disorder when its right in front of her, which is precisely the point…IQ has nothing to do with it. Doc Rose is frustratingly hardheaded as she barrels down her path… ‘I’m not rationalizing, I’m rational’, she insists, even as things begin to crash down around her. The script also does a very nice job illustrating the less-than-sympathetic way others can view someone with an eating disorder (‘this is the thanks we get?’) as if it were a dietary choice as simple as passing on red meat. The show is very cool in staging…Eleanor Crowder is listed as Dramaturge, and she and Lisa have worked some magic in the Arts Court space. Technology and performance mesh beautifully here to make a show unlike any I’ve caught in a long while, and one I think Ottawa audiences need to support. Honest, if I weren’t so head-thumpingly sick, I might go catch it again this week. All of you go for me, deal? Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid (and Winston)
Side note: I caught another show about eating disorders, THE DYSMORPHIA DIET by Clay Nikiforuk, last year at the Montreal Fringe Festival…happy to say neither of them came off as an ‘issue play’, while still doing a solid job of spotlighting the important issues at their beating core. Hurrah to awesome women making great theatre about important shit!