By Kathy Morgan
I strongly recommend that anyone who has ever in their life been a girl aged 12 and three quarters, or been in contact with one, should immediately purchase tickets the Crow’s Theatre production of I, Claudia, currently onstage at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
Purchase as many tickets as you can, and then force all of you friends to do the same. Then pick up random people off the street and drag them to the show along with you. Suffice it to say, this show was amazing. Unbelievable. Spectacular. Heartbreaking, hi-larious, and utterly, utterly exquisite.
Kristen Thomson, my new personal hero and hopefully someday bff, captivates the audience with her brave and crafted performance. She beautifully brings to life four complex characters with seeming ease.
As the young Claudia she is vulnerable and full to bursting with thirteen year old feelings brought on by her peers, her changing body, and her parents’ divorce. As Doug, Claudia’s grandfather, Thomson is charming and heartbreaking as she reveals a man who sees his choices reflected in a younger generation. As Leslie, Claudia’s new stepmom-to-be, she is brittle and a little desperate. And as the Bolgonian janitor of Claudia’s school, she is the outsider, both figuratively and literally, who introduces us to this magical world, and ushers us out at the end, no matter how reluctant we are to go.
The show is performed in a series of half-masks – only the top half of the face is covered. All of the character changes are done before our eyes, and it’s remarkable to watch them take place. Each of the characters are so fully realized, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact they’re all played by one person.
The set is simple, without any extraneous clutter, and sets the mood perfectly. In particular, the mirror that is onstage is used beautifully, and creates several really special moments. Or a particular favourite moment of mine, a top hat held at the perfect angle that created a very poignant moment of two people dancing together.
The lighting was subtle, but expertly handled. The music was absolutely charming, and never invasive. All of the elements truly combined to make Claudia and her cohorts the complete focus.
That, to me, is what the show was really about. These characters were people just begging for a chance to have their voices heard, to tell their side of the story. And that is an experience that I think everyone can relate to, and part of the reason that I think everyone should see this show. It’s a beautiful reminder of our shared humanity, and in a world that seems to be always trying to de-humanize us, this was a really welcome message.
– I, Claudia plays at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (Distillery District, 55 Mill St.) until May 23, 2009
– Show times are Monday to Saturday at 8pm (excluding May 4th), with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2pm (with an extra martinee on May 4th.
-Ticket prices range from $25-$35, available online or by phone 416.866.6666; and in person at the box office. There are also student tickets available individually for $20, or student group tickets available at a discount.
Photo by Ian Jackson