By Mira Saraf
A small table, a chair and a guitar on a tiny wooden stage, and a single accompanying musician. These were the only tools it took to tell the story of a woman’s complicated, if completely imaginary, relationship with Keith Richards.
On a chilly winter Friday night, my show partner and I crammed ourselves into FIXT POINT’s Parkdale space, for Suitcase in Point’s The Keith Richards One Woman Show. It was barely the size of a takeout joint with white wooden chairs squeezed around the performance space and a tiny bar serving cheap beer.
Spotlights, ceiling fans and other paraphernalia hung from gaps in the white ceiling. We sipped PBR and Old Milwauke, and lapped up the energy from the crowd’s pre-show buzz and excitement.
The main character in the show, a somewhat conflicted music journalist Mona (Deanna Jones) has read Richards’ autobiography three times. She has already searched through the index for parts to read a fourth. She has been up for days and from the looks of it slipping into delirium.
As the show progresses she slips with remarkable ease into the characters of Richards, Brian Jones, and Mick Jagger. She uses incredibly subtle changes in body language to flip between characters, for example speaking through exaggeratedly pursed lips to portray Jagger.
She oscillates between waking life and her daydreams, and eventually the boundaries between his and her experiences blur into a morphed alternate reality as she deals with the issues she struggles with.
One of the most remarkable things about the show is the impact they were able to create in shifting scenes and moods using only a few tools. These were two or three spotlights and a sole musician (Kevin Richardson).
Richardson sat perched upon a stool with a guitar and a few other instruments, enhancing what was occurring on stage. And of course there was the guitar that Jones picks up and plays at various points throughout the show. The table functions as seating, a table, and a boat among other things.
The performance was incredibly raw both physically and emotionally. You can feel the struggle between the two almost violently separate parts of her personality. It was well paced, though it may have dragged a little bit towards the end. Nonetheless it was a dynamic and high-energy performance by Jones and Richardson.
The production gave us pieces of Richards’ actual biography through the subjective viewpoint of Mona in her half-dream half-waking state. It is more about her experience of the musician and his life than it is about the musician himself.
The Keith Richards One Woman Show played at FIXT POINT’s parkdale space on November 26 and November 27 at 9pm.