My class had to go see a play last night. I wasn't looking forward to it, but then again anything that takes my pyjamas and TV plan and reroutes it is going to get some flack. This winter has crushed my resolve and turned me into an evening sloth.
So I went to the one-woman play called Sargent & Victor & Me. I expected to dislike it heavily. I was almost wrong. I find myself annoyed at how theatrical theatre is. But then again, I never really understood ballet either.
If theatre's goal is to make me feel something, then yes, the play was successful. I held back tears as Debbie Patterson took us through the fear and loss of someone being crushed by Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I held back tears when a young gang member picked Patterson's character Gillian up off the ground even though she was covered in piss.
Patterson knows how to tell a story. She broke down barriers and exposed some very ugly things that happen in our city. Her acting was fantastic. Her accents were spot on. I was engaged, and in that way the play was effective.
There were some other things that left me feeling a little off, though. There was some sexuality and racism coming from the main character, Gillian, that seemed to be thrown in there more for shock value than to advance the story. This made the character hard to root for, even though the play tried to make the audience feel empathy for her struggle with MS.
The thing that bothered me the most was none of the people being imitated in the play have actually seen the play. The play was 90% verbatim from interviews with these people, yet they weren't a part of the process beyond being interviewed.
I haven't seen a play like this before, and it was much more interesting than I expected. She portrayed racism in a way that made me feel uncomfortable and anticipating some kind of redemption. Unfortunately, the climax where the gangster prostitute picks the white lady with MS up off the ground was made up.
This play blurred the lines between journalism and creative fiction in a way that made me question it. Perhaps that was the intent.