Barbara Selfridge’s one woman show asks the question “You decide which is scarier: epilepsy or prime numbers…and sex.” An intriguing and beguiling question that doesn’t quite maintain the same level of curiosity onto the stage. Ms. Selfridge wrote and preforms the show, with development help from David Ford.
You see, Ms. Selfridge came from a very dysfunctional family – one fraught with trauma, drama, and acts of God. The family consists of a genius mathematician father with a love for women and an ability to detach himself from his daughters; a guilt ridden and divorced mother; and a mentally disabled sister, who is also severely epileptic.
This production juggled Ms. Selfridge’s feelings of frustration and anger with the chronology of the disintegration and eventual deaths of her nuclear family. At times the production was full of biting humor, at times bitter lashing-out anger, and at other times resignation and acceptance. What are we witnessing? Is this a confessional, a recounting of maturing in such an environment, or a cathartic dance of anger? The narrative unravels bit by bit, with elusive cliff-hangers and pauses of, “I’ll come back to that,” or “did you get that”. The talk can remind you of visits to your Aunt Martha’s, where one catches up with all the illnesses and deaths of the past few years OR of accidentally barging into an anger management group session. Ultimately the demise and disintegration of this family is detailed and Ms. Selfridge recounts her ability to vanquish these ghosts and take charge, or does she?
My question – is this the story of victimization or victory. If Ms. Selfridge truly intends this to be a performance piece, and not an expression of release, then a bit more work is required to target and focus the piece. The foundation of the intriguing and “you couldn’t make up this stuff” family dynamics is compelling and worth the effort to develop more fully.
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