2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Bind’ by Corinna Burns at The Drake

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Corinna Burns is not just skilled at acting, she’s also a superb writer and an enthralling storyteller, and she’s proving it once again in this year’s Fringe Festival with Bind. Her latest original work-in-development is an X-rated autobiographical exposé, presented as a script-in-hand solo reading in which she reminisces about her first year in Philadelphia as an innocent deeply-in-debt college-dropout-gone-wild, until revulsion, rage, and a hollow feeling kicked her in the gut, self-awareness and an instinct for survival kicked in, and she got herself out of the bind she was in.

Corinna Burns. Photo by Sarah Miller.

Corinna Burns. Photo by Sarah Miller.

Dressed in a jarringly mismatched outfit that displays the two antithetical sides of her life in 1993 – the year in which she turned 21 – Burns stands alone, center stage, directly addressing the audience with explicit descriptions of her imprudent activities and hilarious characterizations of the people she encountered along the way. Her very visual style of writing is boldly confessional, funny, and soul-baring, and her first-person delivery is punctuated by expressive gestures and vocal intonations, as she recounts her experiences in graphic detail (her precise memories aided by the journal she kept), references such local pop-culture institutions as the Khyber Pass Pub and the now-defunct weekly publication The Welcomat, recognizes the lingering effects of a deeply troubled childhood and tragically dysfunctional parents on her development and self-esteem, and discerns the wider sociological implications of what she went through and survived.

Bind is filled with outrageous humor, profound pathos, and incisive observation, in Corinna Burns’ engrossing (with more-than-a-little emphasis here on “gross!”) signature style. Aside from offering us intimate and over-the-top revelations, her real-life story raises serious socio-economic issues about exorbitant tuition costs, limited funding for education, and the seemingly insurmountable debt in which even the very brightest of students often find themselves, and concludes with a feminist recognition of the reality of sexual-politics and gender that all young women, and everyone else, should hear. So go hear it!

Promotional image with Corinna Burns, 1993. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Promotional image with Corinna Burns, 1993. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Running Time: Approximately 55 minutes, without intermission.

Bind plays through Sunday, September 24, 2017, at Corinna Burns, performing at The Drake, Proscenium Theater – 302 South Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the Fringe box office at (215) 413-9006, or purchase them online.

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