Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘Self-Portrait of a Sinner’

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Self Portrait of a Sinner is a one-woman show performed by Veronique MacRae. The play goes through the seven deadly sins by presenting a character who represents some aspect of the sin in a way you might not have thought of before – a homeless woman for gluttony, a pastor’s wife for greed, a prostitute for lust. This show is clearly a soul-cry; the heart and earnest struggle of the author is evident from the first moment of the play.

self-portrait

Unfortunately, the projection work was at times distracting and remained so throughout the performance. Between each sin, an interview of three subjects (each of which appeared to be a religious authority) played, but these interviews only gave the most surface level insights into what these sins might be.

MacRae’s characters were diverse and occasionally subversive in an interesting manner. One special treat in the show was her homeless character, which allowed her to perform in a more subdued manner and to showcase her amazing singing voice (more songs in this show would have certainly been welcome, this was a highlight of the show to me). However, most of her characters veered toward the melodramatic with predictable character flaws. Often, it seemed as if MacRae was finding flaws in caricatures rather than in a real, relatable person. Her writing seemed to mistake misfortune for complexity, leaving each person she presented as a one-sided pariah.

Which is a shame in light of how powerful a performer Veronique is. She is unafraid to confront her audience, looking them dead in the eye, asking them who they really are. While her monologue in the end suggested that all of these sins are overcome-able, nothing in the text offered a recourse for those who have fallen into it. Watching these characters wallowing in their self-designed sorrow made this script seem hopeless, and at times, faithless.

I would hope that MacRae could find a way to shed some light onto her dark, dark show. Although it is the Self Portrait of a Sinner, MacRae made it clear that she believes our mistakes are not the only things that define us. Hopefully, that sentiment can find its way onto her stage and in to her play.

Running Time: 75 minutes

Self Portrait of a Sinner plays through July 26th at Caos on F – 923 F Street NW in Washington DC. For more information, check out their FCapitaringe Page.

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