Natalie Joy Quesnel, known to many as the former executive producer of the festival, has returned to the other side of the stage with her first one-woman show, First Words.
Should you see it?
First Words is a touching look at what it’s like living in the shadow of a tragedy and growing up as both the oldest and youngest sibling. Rooted in the true story of the tragic fire that killed five of her grandmother’s children and her grandmother’s vow to replace each one of them, even giving them the same names, the main character of the fictionalized piece is “Me” who witnesses the fire and surrounding events from her mother’s womb and who is born and raised the oldest of five when she would have otherwise been born the youngest.
Natalie Joy Quesnel wrote First Words and performs the role of Me through various stages of life from adulthood all the way back to fetus. You’ll watch her dance, laugh, live, and cry while playing distinct ages and stages of life with natural ease. To add, the way Me is portrayed as a fetus in the show is exceptionally well realized. Definitely the most distinguished and memorable fetus I’ve seen on stage. (Perhaps the only?)
The play was directed by Emily Pearlman of MiCasa Theatre fame, and between her and Quesnel, they’ve created a lovely and intricately woven story with well crafted staging that doesn’t spoonfeed you anything but instead leaves you to piece things together for yourself and experience the show as it unfolds. While there were sparing moments where this might have worked against the show, or at least where I didn’t quite get it, overall it’s well achieved by the two esteemed artists, making for a very solid show.
What did you think of how First Words was presented? Was it clear and easy to follow, or were you left wondering and trying to keep up more than not? Have you seen a better fetus portrayal? Join the discussion and tell me what you think in the comments below.