-And now, it gives me terrific delight and pleasure to post the first ever ‘+1 Review’, from my very own permanent plus one, Caitlin Oleson! She makes her long overdue Visitorium debut with a writeup of Thunder Blunder’s I THINK I’m Dead…but enough from me!-
+1 Reviews: I Posit that I May, In Fact, Not be Fully Living
The most handsome Visitor has been kind enough to lend me space on this illustrious blog when I feel like giving a special show a shout out or when I just miss reviewing (you may know me from my former role as a writer for OnStage Ottawa – good times!). Tonight it’s the former: I just saw a show totally worth bragging about and you’re a goof if you missed it.
Tonight, I was Mr. Visitor’s +1 for Al LaFrance‘s “I Think I’m Dead” at The Gladstone Theatre. I had had a rough day (Mondays, am I right?) and almost bailed in favor of moping alone with ice cream under a blanket fort. The only reason I braved the transit system and the cold was to snuggle up with my man. I am so glad I put on my grown-up pants and went out.
I Think I’m Dead is a top-notch storytelling show. It has all the right ingredients: honesty, energy, humour, and an interesting topic. I want to say that it’s about insomnia but that’s a gross oversimplification. These stories are about friendships, vulnerabilities, family, anxiety, hurricanes, fear, Fight Club, mental health, movies, trampolines, relationship, and life in general. I Think I’m Dead runs the gamut of laugh-out-loud moments, awkward teenage tales, and sorrowful confessions, punctuated with Billy Joel tunes.
Of course, this show wouldn’t be as strong without its performer. LaFrance is self-deprecating, eminently likeable, and sincere. On stage, he blends pathos, absurdity, philosophy, and love in an electrifying, pure-fun mix of dramatic narration. He effortlessly transitions between topics, calling back past themes like a magician, and drawing you in until you feel like lifelong friends. I left the theatre absolutely full of the feels:
- I was suddenly looking forward to our Fringe Festival and seeing what other wonderful worlds could be conjured out of a bare stage and a barefoot man
- I felt happy and bouncy and carefree because I’d just been entertained for 75 minutes – that’s over an hour of not thinking about my work stresses!
- I wanted to replay the whole show, and pick apart the script, to find those juicy turns of phrases that pricked my ear’s curiosity
- I was overwhelmed by feelings of inspiration to write my own stories, share my own experiences, and reflect on some of what had just been explored
What I think is most impressive is how I left the theater feeling less alone. As LaFrance talked about his own battles with depression, I found myself cheering for him and nodding along: what he described was exactly how I felt. His story punched me in the heart and enveloped me in a warm hug at the same time. Al, if you’re reading this, thank you for your candor and bravery. Stories like yours go a long way towards eradicating stigma and creating compassion and understanding toward mental health.
Additional thoughts (because I don’t know when to shut up): I Think I’m Dead is thoughtful, unique, and one of the best shows I’ve seen this season. If all shows were this good, I’d get rid of Netflix and never leave the theater. Thanks for brightening my day, Mr. LaFrance, and thanks for the web space, Mr. Visitor. Hope to see you both again soon!