lesley smith photo by emily jewer
Kristin Slaney’s play L: A Fragmentation Subway Waltz tells the story of Dr. Eleanor Gerard-Goldman who is struggling to retain her job as a lecturer at a University while having a complex breakdown where her personality has fragmented into three separate entities representing her instinct for flight, to fight and her attempt to hold the two in some semblance of balance.
It’s an interesting idea to use a series of monologues performed by a single actor to be an exploration of one person’s different manifestations of self. Lesley Smith gives a strong performance as all three fragments of this woman, showing great vulnerability at times and bringing an engaging personable quality to all three roles.
The biggest challenge for L is that it suffers from being overwritten. The audience is never able to piece any of the play together for themselves. Slaney is continually explaining and telling us, often more than once, that these three women are representations of one woman’s fractured sense of self brought on by the trauma of the death of her father. I would rather have been shown L’s journey and been allowed to make my own connections and to be given more depth and complexity into this character’s psyche. I wanted to be shown more about Eleanor, rather than having her explained to me.
I also found it difficult to believe that a girl who was raised by a Francophone Catholic mother and an English speaking Jewish father would have been able to grow up with only periphery knowledge of Catholicism, Judaism and French. In my experience, much of these things are acquired through osmosis, even if they are not actively taught and if L was able to remain a “blank slate,” while growing up in Montreal (a city that is 60% Francophone and has over 88,000 Jews), I wanted to see a clearer and more interesting reason how and also why.
The play has a strong vision from director Keelin Jack that melds the world of the subway car with the world of the lecture hall so it is not clear which realm exists in the present or in “reality” or whether they are both existing simultaneously.
I love the idea of playing with an unreliable narrator, or in this case, three unreliable narrators, but I find that it is the most effective when the audience is continually questioning the reliability of the information being given to them or suddenly having to call into question everything they had been led to blindly believe.
L: A Fragmentation Subway Waltz plays at the Theatre Nova Scotia Living Room (2353 Agricola Street) at the following times:
September 7 @ 4:30 PM
September 8 @ 7:00 PM
Tickets are $6.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm.