Thursday, May 18, 2017

Theatre: Interrupting a Crisis (★★★½)

Written and performed by Georgina Cramond
Directed by Finn O’Branagain
Designed by Clare Testoni
Lighting design by Rhiannon Petersen `
Blue Room Theatre
Until June 3

Late in Georgina Cramond’s tender confessional, Interrupting a Crisis, she invokes Joni Mitchell, the queen of the genre her show falls into.

She’s entitled to, because both harness their emotional hypersensitivity, working through pain to realisation.

I’m not getting carried away here: Mitchell is a consummate, titanic musician, and Cramond still a neophyte, albeit an engaging one; Mitchell’s songs are stories nurseried in her experiences and gowned in sumptuous art, Cramond’s songs and monologues, in this show at least, are seedlings of pure autobiography, stark naked in both content and performance.

It’s an extremely brave act for a fragile person. In a sense Cramond is playing out her demons (is that the right word?) in the most direct possible terms. When she talks about how she deals with her disturbances, and its limitations and dangers – they are “short-term solutions to long term problems”; they give her “control of something”; she is “doing the best I can with the time I have been given”, you feel very strongly she is talking about the purpose of what she is doing right now, right here, every bit as much as she is what she did then, and there.

Those disturbances – her crippling anxiety, depression and eating disorder – are confronted head-on and unflinchingly. Those of us – and it’s a frighteningly high percentage – who have first-hand experience of these catastrophes can only applaud her courage and hope for the therapeutic benefit Cramond is clearly seeking here.

Cramond has been guided through the process of this show by the writer and director Finn O’Branagain, and O’Branagain’s care and sensitivity is very evident throughout. Her show also benefits greatly from the set and lighting design of Clare Testoni and Rhiannon Petersen respectively, who give it a sharp, cool look that seems to counter Cramond’s diffident charm until their hard edges and pincer focus hint at a deeper reality.

What now for Cramond? Her music now needs room to swell, her comic gifts now need a place to find more expression; she needs Mitchell’s gown of art to transform her personal frailty into something stronger, wider and louder.

Even if Interrupting a Crisis is only a step in that process (and it’s more than that), it’s a valuable and noteworthy one.     

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