Giving Into Light (dancingstorysinger) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Adam Collier

A company that goes by the name dancingstorysinger is producing Giving Into Light. A part of Fringe at the Tarragon Extra Space.

While waiting to enter the venue I asked another patron what he had heard about the show. He hesitated for a moment. Then he said, “Alison is a very funny storyteller” referring to its solo performer (Alison Wearing).

A tequila bottle and a affable-looking skeleton are amongst a few objects on the floor of the playing space.

Ms Wearing begins Giving Into Light with impressions of her experience as a new mother. Perhaps telling of how universal her experience was, a steady laughter came from women in the audience.

Ms Wearing moves beyond the physical exhaustion (there’s a terrific riff on the meaning of the term ‘sleep deprivation’) and her own sense of social awkwardness in maternity circles (that come across as shallow social get-togethers) to disclose that she feels – or is it felt? – depressed.

There’s a paradox in the performance at times, because while Ms Wearing narrates her story with hypnotically wide-eyed concern, and her posture and tone become increasingly frantic, the events occasionally slip into the past tense.

At times I felt the performance was disingenuous to the text. (This might be because, as the production notes say, Giving Into Light is based off of a book Ms Wearing recently wrote. This show is presumably an afterthought then, “a desire to do something more lively than a standard book reading” quoting from the same notes.)

Giving Into Light was most engaging for me as Ms Wearing describes her experience in Tepozlan, Mexico. She does a crowd-pleasing impression of her elderly landlady. And there are a few narrative passages that are luxuriously padded-out with descriptive details of the local market.

But before long I was holding back sighs as Ms Wearing, as a caricature of a Mexican woman, attempts to explain why the literary term ‘magic realism’ is not an appropriate description of writing that deals with everyday life in Mexico. I couldn’t take this part – though apparently pleasing to most of the crowd – as anything but condescending. At the same time though, I do understand why it’s part of the show.

I was left with no doubt after Giving Into Light – the title derives from the Spanish phrase for giving birth – Ms Wearing is sincere in her passion for her lifestyle in Mexico. The show is an articulate tour-de-force with many amusing – if not laugh-out loud – moments, performed with a lively spirit.

Giving Into Light received a thirty-second, sustained applause. One of the longest I’ve heard during my experience of Fringe.

Details

Giving Into Light is playing at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman Avenue)

– One performance remains: Sunday, July 11th at 7:30PM