I feel a little sheepish reviewing Tanya Davis’ newest solo show NonMonog and The Gray Scale Dwellers because her poetry always seems so effervescent to me, floating through the theatre space like delicate bubbles of wonder and heartbeats. Attempting to “review” Tanya Davis’ words seems a bit like trying to paste a butterfly into a journal to me. It’s best to just allow it be beautiful and let it alone.
NonMonog is a show about love and all it can be, emancipated from the rules, multiplied and not divided, Davis tells us about her journey into polyamourity. There is a wide open channel directly from Tanya Davis’ soul, it seems, to her words, looping first through her heart. She is known for her vulnerable and charming stage presence and her ability to captivate an audience from her very first word, and endear herself to make the theatre one of the most intimate sharing spaces one can experience with strangers. We come together, our hearts open a little wider, and we become acutely aware of how deeply and earnestly we are listening, breathing in all of Davis’ tightly sculpted words and feeling our own empathies and experiences stirring down inside us.
Rooted in a lovely ponderous innocence, NonMonog raises questions for us about how our society characterizes love and what preconceived notions we have been taught to attach to this tumultuous word. Does a couple of two necessarily equate happiness? Has it been assumed that we are all on a quest to find and to keep the one we are supposed to love? Does more love with more partners create more opportunity for heartbreak, less opportunity for loneliness or both or neither or sometimes? How are we supposed to keep anyone or anything, to remain in love, to hold on and to make last when the world and everything in it is supposed to be in constant flux? At the core, I think, we all fear change, like we fear intimacy, like we fear rejection and abandonment, like we are all human beings and Tanya Davis has a fantastic mastery of being able to emphasize our parallel experiences while still celebrating that which makes us all unique, special and unable to be shoved into a one size fits all cliché.
As well as being Halifax’s official Poet Laureate, Davis is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and she sings two lovely tunes in NonMonog as well. Her music captures the spirit of her poetry, is very lyric driven and has a gentle and comforting hopefulness to it. If you haven’t heard the winsome songs from her three albums (Make a List, Gorgeous Morning and Clocks and Hearts Keep Going) I would highly recommend you checking out this beautiful track and this one as well and then adding all three records to your music collection.
Tanya Davis talks a lot about lighthouses in this piece and I can’t help but liken her to one. She shines a light through her music and poetry into the unexplored crevices mainstream society seems so content to ignore. Our worlds are so often dark and stormy, and each of us is like a disparate boat cut off from one another, fighting our way into the light and toward a place that feels like home. Like a calming and guiding beacon, Davis’ work not only acknowledges our profound isolation and difficulty connecting with one another, but also suggests the possibility of being the pioneers who brave the storms to follow their instincts and live their dreams.
NonMonog and The Grey Scale Dwellers plays as part of the Queer Acts Festival at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) at the following times:
Saturday July 21st at 9:00pm
Sunday July 22nd at 6:00pm.