Review: I Claudia by Kristen Thomson

When I see the dreaded words, “This show has no intermission” outside the auditorium, my heart sinks as I begin having second thoughts about making the hour-plus drive from Cornwall to Ottawa, dropping a hundred dollars and change on dinner (not to mention the price of gas), all to culminate in watching a one-act play flip by. Give me two or three act play every time, or let me stay home.

Except this time.

I Claudia is a delightful one-woman show performed in mask by Liisa Repo-Martell. The masks, by Abdelkader Farrah, are distinctive, witty creations that, along with the costumes, not only distinguish among the characters but, particularly in the case of Claudia, the focal character, cleverly depict what the character thinks of herself.

Teenage angst can be a very funny subject for a non-teenagers (among whom I number myself) and that is the case here: Claudia is a very insightful character with a dramatic-comic back story about her father’s impending wedding to an airhead.

While the script managed to engage me, the character changes/costume changes really slow things down, in spite of artful attempts to make them interesting; they really should be speeded up.

The start of the play was somewhat puzzling: as the lights dimmed, I could see what appeared to be a late patron arriving at the entrance to the house, which is downstage left; then he walked onto the stage and disappeared through the curtains at the back. I thought this was establishing the fourth walland the setting itself, a stage. But it turned out that the setting was primarily a school basement, and the character was the janitor. Maybe that worked, but I found the time the janitor spent indistinctly behind the curtains served no purpose. Otherwise, he did indeed establish the setting and gave us some basis for understanding who Claudia was.

I don’t know whether I was out of it or the script failed me a bit, but I found the wedding confusing. I wasn’t certain whether this was Claudia’s mother’s wedding or her father’s wedding. The distinction was made clear at the end, but I had difficulty distinguishing between the mother and the girlfriend. it took an after-play discussion to set me straight.

The title’s allusion to Robert Graves’ epic Roman novel with almost the same title was fun and a sly dig at the politics of Claudia’s family.

Was it worth the trip? Yes, this time. But I hope we aren’t having another season of one-acters at GCTC.

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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordcurrents/ Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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