So after a quick after-work scoot to Arts Court and a trip to the Odd Box to watch an emotional one-woman show about life in wartime, I thought, hey, you know what’d be great? To stick around the Odd Box and see a second emotional one-woman show about life in wartime! Because I make fun decisions like that.
But of course it WAS a fun decision, because that show was ANATOLIA SPEAKS. From writer /director Kenneth Brown (whose SPIRAL DIVE I saw and was amazed by many moons ago at Ottawa Fringe) and performer Candice Fiorentino, the show introduces us to recent immigrant to Canada Anatolia, a refugee from the war in Bosnia. Using the clever device of having Ana address her local ESL class on her progress in her new home in Edmonton, we are introduced to a bright and likeable heroine, extolling the virtues of her job at Superstore, and trying in vain to dance around questions that keep trying to get her to open up about the war-torn life she was forced to flee. Of course, this is a theatre piece, so before too long we start to get at the answers Anatolia is so reluctant to share. And there’s a reason she wanted to leave all of that behind.
Fiorentino is just bloody marvellous in the title role, bringing warmth and sincerity to Anatolia as she is pushed beyond her comfort levels and into dangerous territory. A potentially triggering show to some, but handled at all times with dignity and grace, beautifully combining the dire subject matter at its heart with genuine humour and joy. It was a wonderful balancing act to watch, and a thrill when they pulled it off so smoothly. I even loved the slides.
So yeah, another terrific, emotional, one-woman show about life in wartime. Turns out it was a fun decision after all! ANATOLIA SPEAKS plays in the Odd Box for the rest of the fest, tickets available at the Ottawa Fringe website here. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin R (and Baby G)