The Arts

Next Stage Festival/Fire Up Co-operative – Sarah Michelle Brown’s First Hand Woman

Next Stage Festival/Fire Up Co-operative – Sarah Michelle Brown’s First Hand Woman featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron
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First Hand Woman
Next Stage Festival/Fire Up Co-operative
Written by Sarah Michelle Brown
Directed by Esther Jun
Starring Kiran Friesen, Patrice Goodman, Allana Harkin, Nicole Leroux and Brown
At Factory Studio Theatre until Jan. 18
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The runaway hit at the Next Stage Festival is Sarah Michelle Brown’s First Hand Woman. Brown takes Elisabeth Kübler Ross’s five stages of grief — Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and Acceptance — and assigns them to separate actors who collectively present the turmoil in a woman’s mind. The loss for this woman is the end of a romance. The title First Hand Woman is what her collective protagonist wants to be — and not the Second Hand Woman who is discarded by a man.

Set designer Anna Treusch has created a tapestry of cloth fashioned into an intricate weaving that could be the Gordian Knot of the mind. Saidah Baba Talibah created the live music-cum-sound effects. Esther Jun’s poignant direction is part choreography, part spoken text.

Brown could use an editor, but her play is clever. The women perform with conviction with Allana Harkin as Acceptance being particularly strong.

First Hand Woman continues at Factory Studio Theatre until Jan 18.

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