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Theatre In The Park
Written by Virginia Grise with additional writing by solo performer Florinda Bryant, Your Healing is Killing Me, onstage now as part of PlayMakers' PRC² series, describes itself not as a play but as a "performance manifesto." And, that description is mostly correct, though with a bit of what seems like memoir thrown into the mix.
The artful Bryant, accompanied by a moving backdrop and simple set pieces, takes viewers on a journey through the speaker's life. She describes a life in which creativity was often deemed as a problem, a life in which many secrets were kept, and a life in which culture and healing often clashed. This idea of a clash between culture and healing is highlighted not just on an individual level, but also on a nationwide one.
For, while Grise's script touches on many topics, its overarching one is that it's impossible for people to thrive within a system that profits from the exact opposite. And while the main focus is the healthcare system, the intriguing script also focuses on other "systems" and the realities of being a minority- whether in terms of gender, self-identification, sexual preference, or anything else- within any power-hungry system.
While the topics dealt with in this brief show are serious ones, the script is not overly heavy. In fact, thanks in large part to Bryant's conversational approach to the material, as well as her extreme relatability, the piece never comes across as "preachy" or heavy-handed. Instead, it feels like a journey, an experience with a person- a journey that helps viewers to understand the speaker's plight along the way, as well as to identify with it and see its ramifications in their own lives.
Directed by Shayok Misha Chowdhury, who keeps the sole performer moving and active throughout the piece to maintain interest, and infused with the effervescent personality of Bryant, this work is an important one that will leave viewers with much to ponder long after the curtain closes.
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