Writer: Tara Beagan
Director: Andy Moro
Reviewer: Gareth Davies
A few short words stand out from Tara Beagan’s muscular text: when the estimated figure of Indigenous woman and girls that are missing or murdered in Canada suddenly increases by more than 50% – because someone, somewhere, counted them wrongly for so long – the detail speaks to not just the volume but the nature of the problem.
In Beagan’s confessional one-woman play, Lila (Cherish Violet Blood) is a Blackfoot woman mourning the disappearance of her younger sister, amongst a community for whom the experience is distressingly common. For the benefit of a recording camera, Lila slowly unfolds herself, her history, her experience and her intentions.
Blood’s performance is emotionally fluid as she moves between heartfelt horror and lighter memories, and she comes most alive when switching between characters in the memories she relates – a scene with her father and sister on their first hunting trip shows off her versatility, both vocally and bodily.
Beagan’s writing of the sensory experiences of childhood feels full of authentic details, along with some astutely comic observations – like the vocal fluctuations of a panicking, hysterical gay man resembling those of “a pessimistic cheerleader”.
Andy Moro’s direction is hindered by Lila spending the majority of her time in front of her camera confessional, although Blood’s performance bubbles with enough energy to ensure she never feels rooted to the spot. But the twin screens flanking the set offer little more than literal refractions of Lila’s words, and more often are a distraction from the focus of her address.
Beagan is smart enough to take a meta approach to exploring the issues at hand, with a canny reference to the dangers of making theatre from real life hurt, but leaves herself open to accusations of similar narrative exploitation with the play’s final act.
Until 24 August 2019 (not 5, 12 or 19) | Image: Prudence Upton