A now elderly daughter lovingly shares the life stories of the women who raised her, and recalls what it was like to grow up influenced by such strong and sassy role models.
Should you see it?
In my experience, most solo shows fall into one of two categories: an upbeat story with many characters all played frantically by a single actor (or patched in by pre-recorded voices), or a storytelling style series of monologues and anecdotes illustrating a time in someone’s life. In a rare turn of events, Women Who Shout at Stars kind of does both, to pretty cool effect.
Carolyn Heatherington plays three characters: herself, her mother Gwendolyn, and her nanny Edie. For the most part, these characters tell their stories in monologues and acted anecdotes (short scenes with imagined companions). Occasionally they act ‘together’ with Heatherington deftly switching back and forth between two characters. Don’t worry: it’s easy to follow these scenes given the distinct personalities of each woman. Gwendolyn is a little stuck-up but a warrior through and through; Edie is kind-hearted and a feisty firecracker if ever there was one; and Carolyn provides a calm baseline.
The stories they tell aren’t all the same only told from a different perspective, nor are they intertwined to arrive at a conclusive shared moment. Rather they are simple stories about important parts of their lives: Edie becoming orphaned, stumbling into housework, and learning to live with being a spinster; Gwen meeting the love of her life, losing him, and wanting to end it all; Carolyn growing up surrounded by these two strong women. In the end, we feel like we’ve been told a story not only of their relationships to each other but also of love, family, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, growing old, and being a woman.
This show is sweet and endearing, simply staged but to great effect, with a highly skilled actress as its star. There is dancing and music and laughter and tears and heartwarming lessons to be learned. What more could you want?
Did this show leave you wanting more – or was there more that you wanted out of it? Did it make you yearn to explore your own family history, or yawn at having to sit through yet another set of elderly reminiscences? We’d love to hear what you thought in the comments below.
For more information on Women Who Shout at the Stars, including show times and how to buy advance tickets, visit the show page on ottawafringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/women-who-shout-at-the-stars/