1540-1705, Assembly @ George Street
In her boiler-room hideaway, awkward teenager Claudia suffers her self-imposed exile, with only her goldfish Romeo & Juliet for company. A loner with a poetic soul, she obsesses about her father’s impending marriage to her soon-to-be step-mother, whilst the kind-hearted school janitor tolerates her from afar, protecting her from discovery and from herself.
I, Claudia is a touching and insightful one-hander from playwright and performer Kristen Thomson. She chooses to play the parts behind grotesque comedia dell’arte-style masks. Instead of hiding the emotions and motivations of each character, the masks – together with the excellently-performed physical and vocal mannerisms of Thomson – serve to highlight the hidden thoughts and desperation behind them.
At times, this moving and well-paced work threatens to meander away from its point; yet it is quickly brought back on track by Thomson’s quick changes and her convincing dialogue. As Claudia herself, she is excellent, portraying all the awkwardness and angst of the teenage misfit so believably that you forget not only the mask from which her wide eyes shine behind, but also the fact this is a solo performance which she also wrote.
Produced by the Toronto-based Crow’s Theatre company, I, Claudia is a sharply-observed and poignant piece. There is comic relief in the dialogue and the absurdity of some of its title character’s thoughts and actions, but ultimately it is a study of what lies behind the masks we each choose to wear ourselves.
Ticket information is available on the Assembly website.
Review by Keith D