Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘A Lesbian Belle Tells!’

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Stories are a key to unlocking connections between people and hearing other’s stories can bring us deeper insights into our own lives.

Elizabeth McCain’s personal stories delivered during her one-woman show at Capital Fringe generate many connections with the audience. The stories are more than McCain’s journey to understand her sexuality. Her personal stories are also universal stories of humanity as we seek to understand who we are—not who parents, lovers, and friends want us to be but who we genuinely believe ourselves to be deep in our souls. McCain, an award-winning storyteller as well as a grief counselor, energy practitioner, and interfaith minister, tells of love and loss with a mix of pathos, playfulness, and sincerity. She reminds us that our lives are tragic, funny, complicated, and marvelous. McCain wrote the script and the production is directed by Santa Fe resident Tanya Taylor Rubinstein who specializes in solo performance coaching.

Lesbian Belle

McCain begins at the beginning—her birth to a prosperous father and religious mother in a small town in Mississippi where, it is assumed, she will grow up to be the perfect Southern Belle: college at Ol’ Miss followed by marriage to a perfect Southern Gentleman followed by babies. As her mother said, “That’s what Southern women do.” But this Southern Belle has other dreams.

McCain is likable and does a terrific job of differentiating the many characters—from cocktail sippin’ aunties to boyfriends and girlfriends to the many people who have influenced her life—with a wide range of distinctive voices. She seems less comfortable, however, with movement on stage, especially with her hands that seem to be in almost constant motion. I was disappointed that the stage went black for scene changes at some of the moments of deepest emotion.  I wanted to linger in those moments just a bit longer and see a bit more reaction on McCain’s face.

I enjoyed seeing the photographs on the screen behind McCain of family, friends, and places in her life. One small nit on the slides: please have them fade in and out. When it is such an abrupt jump from picture to black screen, my attention was drawn away from the McCain on stage.

I found the stories compelling and I recommend you get your tickets in advance as the performance was nearly sold out on opening night. No matter what your gender, sexuality, age, or ethnicity, I know you will enjoy your journey through this remarkable woman’s life and I suspect you will be surprised by connections and insights you might discover into your own life.

Running Time: 80 minutes.

A Lesbian Belle Tells! plays through July 26, 2014, at Main Stage – Goethe Institut -812 7th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page.

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