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Camden Fringe 2009

Is This My Art?

Zoe Lavelle

Venue: Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High Street, London NW1


Low Down

In her highly entertaining production of  Is This My Art, Zoe Lavelle questions the concept of honoring one’s personal reality in performance. When our past, present, and future can be manipulated in order to serve a purpose and tell an amusing story, how do we know where our own facts end and fiction begins? More importantly, if an artist’s lies can entertain an audience, then does their insincerity even matter?


Zoe is not the girl she used to be. She is also not who she appears to be; or is she? In Zoe Lavelle’s one-woman show, ‘Is This My Art’, themes of manipulation and exaggeration through art are explored with humor, wit, and intelligence. Through her fictional character, Zoe Dickens, Ms. Lavelle shares real snapshots of her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. ‘You have to go back in order to go forward’, she claims, and in an attempt to discover her identity she revisits some of the more poignant moments of her life in a quest for self-realization. Instead of truth, however, she finds that she has unwittingly altered her memory of events. Where the reality has been too painful, she has created a more favorable one in its place. A part of Is This My Art is biographical, Zoe promises, but neither she nor her audience will come to know which part that is.

Zoe Lavelle is endearing, a very talented young actor with superb comic delivery and physicality. She has written a convincing script and she delivers it with conviction. This subject matter could have easily become dark and over-emotive. Thankfully, its creator has instead infused her work with a cheery playfulness. Set against a nearly empty stage, Lavelle cleverly integrates real photographs from her life, original video clips, and an easel in order to tell her story and to assist her audience in visualization. Lighting and sound are also appropriate for the piece, and the staging feels fresh and natural. The only real disappointment, then, is the run-time. 
At just over thirty minutes, Is This My Art comes to its brief end just as its main character is at her most engaging. If the character of Zoe has set out to find answers, the playwright has stopped her and her audience from discovering them. Perhaps this is the point; perhaps no one ever really knows himself or herself fully. However, lengthening this piece a bit could only serve to make its impact more memorable. As it currently is, it is delightful and highly recommended.
Playing through August 17th at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden as a part of the Camden Fringe Festival.


Show Website