Writer: Deborah Pearson
Reviewer: Matthew Forrest
Take a controversial 1950’s film about football, a failed uprising against the ruling communist state, and an actor who loses his voice and add into the mix a granddaughter seeking the truth. This may sound like the plot to a Hollywood Oscar hopeful, but it isn’t: this is real life and this the basis for Deborah Pearson’s live documentary about her family, and the ‘what if’ moments that sometimes enter our brains.
The performance opens with Pearson sat at a desk, which resembles a private detective’s office. At the back of her, a huge projection screen shows the film The Wonder Striker.. Pearson gives a brief backstory about the period of the film teasing us with what is about to come.
The significance of this event is vital to Pearson’s story: first, Pearson’s Grandfather, Imre Pongrácz was the film’s leading man and as a result of the failed uprising and several other political factors, the film was heavily censored in Hungary, and secondly, and more importantly, this catastrophic event led to Pongrácz and his family fleeing Hungary and setting up life in Canada.
This is an interesting and fascinating story, told with real style and passion: Pearson has an engaging and likable demeanour which adds to its charm. For what may be considered quite a dry subject, Pearson injects a great deal of wit and humour into proceedings using various tools at her disposal: these include changing the subtitles to film, which not only push the narrative along but are also very funny and highly entertaining. In addition, there is fun use of an overhead projector where Pearson introduces us to key events and figures with her own hand-drawn cartoons.
There are also moments of poignancy, especially when Pearson’s grandmother is translating the film for her and telling her side of the story. There is a powerful moment when Pearson moves across the stage with a whiteboard on a stick highlighting the faces of some of the revolutionaries’ whose fates are still unknown.
This is a very personal and fascinating story and one that deserves to be heard, narrated by an engaging storyteller with some unique and original ideas; this is most certainly one to watch.
Reviewed on 13June 2018 | Image: contributed