December 7, 2011

Silent Night

I wasn’t sure what I was in for from this one woman show. All I knew was that it was about a pensioner on Christmas. I certainly didn't expect a rollercoaster that tears down the fourth wall and would bring tears to my eyes, both of laughter and sadness.

Yvette Parsons (Dan is Dead / I am a Yeti) takes the stage as Irene McMunn, an elderly widow spending her first Christmas alone in her retirement unit. It deals with all the ups and downs that come with age; friends passed on, family who aren’t as close as one would like, Christmas day spent with the cat. The set is simple and effective, a small lounge, ready for Christmas day lunch. This is a story told with words not fancy lighting effects or expensive props.

Over the hour, Irene directly addresses the audience to share with us memories from her life. The actress retells these tales with such believable emotion that I was unsure whether the character was simply retelling or actually believed herself to be reliving them. Some stories had the audience doubled over with laughter, while others had some people in need of a hanky. I found myself slightly unnerved by just how similar this character is to my grandmother.

The word rollercoaster really is fitting, the high points were hilariously high and the down points were truly saddening. As time went on I found myself wondering how on earth this story could end. One brief moment of terror as Irene clutches her chest, short of breath… but no, this story doesn’t end there. If I had anything negative to say it would be perhaps the emotions occasionally swing too rapidly between happy and sad.

The acting is brilliant. The story is touching and relatable. Though I originally thought the hour run time would leave me dissatisfied, my attention was held in such a way I felt I had been watching much longer.

I definitely recommend this show to all (though if you’re the sensitive type, take some tissues) and be prepared for the urge to reconnect with your grandparents afterward!

Directed by Stephen Papps. Produced by and starring Yvette Parsons.
Venue: Bats Theatre (play info page)
Showing: December 6-10 at 7pm
Price: $18 Full / $13 Concession / $14 Groups 6+

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