-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.