Let’s Try This Standing brings new meaning to the expression “caught between a rock and a hard place.” When she was 19, Gillian Clark was hit by an out of control SUV and trapped between it and a brick wall.
Her solo show that tells the story of her accident, hospitalization, and recovery opened on Friday at Factory Theatre, part of the 2017 SummerWorks Performance Festival. It’s a lot more cheerful than it sounds.
In a way Clark was lucky. The top half of her body went through a store’s plate glass window, only the bottom half was trapped against the brick wall and sustained most of the injuries.
She was in the hospital for three months and had something like 20 surgeries. She had to learn how to sit and how to walk again. She has permanent nerve damage to her pelvis and her right thigh as well as pretty horrific scarring on her thigh and is still undergoing treatment with a massage therapist to try and reduce the swelling in her thigh.
She calls the therapist “Hands” and uses her appointments with him almost as chapter headings as she tells her story. It’s a good way to do it because the story doesn’t flow traditionally, it’s more a series of incidents than a continuous narrative.
Clark is charming, almost perky, and has a lovely stage presence. She’s self-deprecating and talks openly about things that must have been incredibly embarrassing to a 19 year-old.
For me, the charm and perkiness were a problem for about two-thirds of the show. I kept expecting rage, or at the very least anger. And fear. And frustration. And sorrow. There were a couple of stories about tears, big tears, but then it was right on to the next incident.
It all felt so ‘make the best of it, emphasize the positive, stay cheerful’. It felt unbalanced. I was having trouble believing that anyone could be that accepting and that positive.
Finally, she showed her rage, and in it, her fear. And finally, I connected with her and the show.
It’s not that I would want to see a whole show of rage. I do think though that it would have been a more powerful piece if the positive and negative had been more balance throughout.
Having said that, I enjoyed it. Since SummerWorks is often a launching off point for works, it would be interesting to see where this piece could go with a bit more delving into that anger and fear, a bit more balance. As it stands, Clark’s story is a testament to determination and is worth taking the time to see.
Saturday August 5th 8:15pm – 9:30pm
Monday August 7th 4:45pm – 6:00pm
Wednesday August 9th 5:45pm – 7:00pm
Thursday August 10th 7:30pm – 8:45pm
Saturday August 12th 12:30pm – 1:45pm
Sunday August 13th 5:45pm – 7:00pm
- SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.
Audience advisory: Coarse language, mature content, descriptions of violence (13+)
Latecomers permitted up until 10 minutes after the start of the event.
The August 7 show has been designated as a Relaxed Performance.
Photo of Gillian Clark by Mel Hattie