Oct 27

I, Claudia

by Wil Knoll · 0 comments

The largest complement that I can give to I, Claudia is how natural the language and stories come out. Kristen Thomson has, as most playwrights should, a wonderful ear for how people speak. She must be a fantastic listener. In this show, more than others, that is also the role that the audience is cast in, the trusted confidant, the friend. It is the honest act of the audience listening that encourages Thomson’s characters to say more than they meant to, to pour out their insides when they did not intend to, to say the thing we did not ask them to say but needed to come out.

I, Claudia reminds me of that unforgettable night you spent with a friend, the friend that was going through a harsh, rough time. You need to take them out. So you do. And then you don’t ask anything about those troubles. You specifically do not mention it at all. You just ask one question about something else, anything to just get them talking. And then you listen. You just let them go. They will get around to it at some point. Their narrative will inevitably orbit closer and closer, until their breath starts to spill out the pain and
frustration.

It’s never forced. It flows so wonderfully from the funny story about science class over the one thought about morning coffee right into the meat of a broken home. It’s full of laughs and smiles that slip away into tears and confessions. There are heart breaking moments parceled out right beside the most wholesome memories. And it’s done with such attention to detail.

Lissa Repo-Martell destroys in the four roles this one woman script challenges her with, pouring out energy in waves across the stage in a performance that left me exhausted. I’ve never shared much time with a thirteen year old girl, or one aged twelve and three quarters like Claudia. Now I’m even more terrified of the torrent of ideas, thoughts, jokes and emotional shifts-on-a-dime all packed in side by side with barely a breath between them. Although ATP had to cancel a preview show and the following matinee due to Lissa Repo-Martell falling under the weather, she commits wholly and creates amazingly realized characters. Each one has their own vocal ticks, physical comfort zones, pace and cadence. Repo-Martell and her director/husband Chris Abraham have worked this show a few times, and have really mined each line for work. A simple vocal tick, or the repeating of a word is
not left alone. They are used to punch up the thought and accompanied by individual physical gestures for each repetition, little details that make sense for the character. It’s a fantastic essay on how to find depth in the words through movement and voice.

And the rest of the production is not paid any less due diligence. The set design is simple, effective, grungy and full of textures. The lighting played with side lighting a few times and does well to fill in the soupy light of a dank basement. In it’s simplicity it does more to create a variety of environments then much larger builds.

Guys, this is that fantastic date idea that you have been looking for. Do drinks before and a late dinner afterward. Boom, a magical night. Girls, drop hints. I, Claudia is a must see. Beautifully written, amazingly performed, it’s a fantastic love letter to growing up, regardless of if that happens at twelve, thirteen or fortytwo.

I, Claudia
By Kristen Thomson
A Crow’s Theatre Production
October 20 – November 8, 2009
www.atplive.com

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