Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hand2Mouth Theatre, "My Mind is Like an Open Meadow"

Thirty minutes have passed.  Maybe a little longer.  I glance to my right and I can see the other members of the audience.  I can see the dark shapes of their heads and think about their individual minds and lives.  I think of their perspectives and of my own.  I think of my family and of myself.  I watch their silhouettes and follow their gaze to the stage as  my attention snaps back on the dialog between sole performer Erin Leddy and the recorded voice of her grandmother, Sarah Braveman, in her piece "My Mind Is Like An Open Meadow".

Overall, this performance is purposeful and sincere, dealing with issues of aging and its surrounding emotions.  Starting at a steady pace and acting almost as a guide to living in a constructive way but slowly wobbling farther and farther between fear and acceptance.  Momentum builds until the tipping point where everything stops and Leddy, with her sharpied on varicose veins and a pair of stockings over her face, stands still for a moment in the center of the stage.  The effect is both striking and sad but somehow seems statuesque and iconic through its silliness and senility.  The image (and the show as a whole) remind me to an extent of the Eugene Delacroix painting "Victory Leading the People", showing bravery and triumph even in moments of loss and desperation. 

After a full year of living with and interviewing her grandmother in preparation, Leddy's project takes a focused and personal form that reflects back on our own lives with themes and questions that are universal and constant.  Themes of youth, old age, and life itself.  These are well worn artistic topics but Leddy finds a tightrope of untrod ground and walks it with skill and originality.  Along with Hand2Mouth Theatre and Sarah Braveman, Erin Leddy has woven together a cohesive and multidimensional performance.

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