I was very much looking forward to Tamlynn Bryson’s latest show at the Ottawa Fringe festival. Not just because Tamlynn is a vibrant and proven performer who impressed mightily with her previous shows here, WORKING TITLE: UNDECIDED and #staystrong. And not even because the buzz on this one coming in was terrific…which, not for nothing, it was. I had one more reason.
Bryson’s latest is BEDWETTER, created by herself and Kyle Kimmerly, a true tale of her early years growing up with some decidedly unwelcome bladder issues that, while hardly rare, are still cruelly stigmatized and mocked (as nicely spotlighted with a recurring audio montage of teevee and movie jokes on the subject). And when Tamlynn’s issues extend into her early teens, she is forced into increasingly byzantine and secretive measures to navigate the seemingly simple path ahead. Sleepovers take on a whole new level of stress when the x-factor of bedwetting is brought into the mix. Add into that the feeling of shame that comes with this…condition, I guess we could call it…and it makes for a pretty difficult situation for any young person to deal with. Toss in regular visits to increasingly clueless doctors who are mostly guessing at this point, ever more elaborate diaper-stashing schemes…don’t teen years suck enough?
More than just a storytelling show or a true-life recollection, Bryson reminds us that when she does a show, she goes all in, and the show is peppered throughout with delightful moments of physicality and fantasy. What could be gruelling becomes a highly entertaining bit of theatre making great use of music, voiceovers, pretty sweet lighting cues and, maybe most importantly, puns. And like Ottawa’s A PERIOD PIECE a few years back, this is a show that seeks to take some of the stigma out of a physical issue that, and I can’t stress this enough, is 100% normal, and more common than you may think. Young feminist-in-the-making Tamlynn is, quite frankly, pretty inspiring in her attitude towards it all, trying her best to own her feelings towards her body. Certainly did better than I did…which is the other reason I was excited to see this show. I was a member of this clandestine club myself, until I was about 12. And I was pretty awed and humbled as young Tam made the best of her situation. I mostly slunk in the shadows of secrecy…which, now I think about it, may have something to do with why I still do exactly that nine times outta ten. Hunh.
BUT! This is about BEDWETTER, and this is a fun, fast-paced and honest show that will leave you with cheers and smiles. And just maybe with a little more compassion. Which we could ALL use a little more of. Bedwetter plays at Club Saw until the end of the Ottawa Fringe, tickets available at the festival website here! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin R (and Baby G)