Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Guy Masterson/TTI presents Crow's Theatre (Can) in association with Brian Robertson
Crow Theatre present Kristen Thomson’s tale of Claudia, a near-teen growing up amid parental divorce, angry, anxious and trying to make sense of it all. An excellent one-person performance that utilises masks as part of the character work and unfolding story.
Canada. Claudia is a sibling-poor, philosopbical urban girl, in the aftermath of parental divorce. She’s angry, she’s confused. She wants to understand and she wants understanding.
This is a very tenderly written play about growing through teens, the pains and occasional joys of adolescence. Claudia is a "good kid" who is coming to terms with a new woman in her father’s life after his separation from her mother. Protean performer, Kristen Thomson plays all the characters, each in a mask that captures the essence of that character so that the expression inherent in the mask fires the unique imagination of each audience member to internally create that character in rich detail before them.
We all will see each character in our mind’s eye, with the common ground of voice, physical movement and Thomson’s strong and energetic script. These are character studies with a difference as we cannot see what the actor’s facial expressions are so, at least in part, we are co-creators of the piece, the reality of the charactcer before us slightly different for each audience member. It might all fall short if it weren’t for the outstanding portrayals of each character in voice, costume, word and movement by Kristen Thomson, aided by masks designed both to capture essence, portray it, and also stimulate audience imagination.
And these characters – her grandfather, her father’s new girlfriend, and the East European caretaker- are played with such studied precision by Thomson, it is this which earns I, Claudia its five stars.
Each character is of a piece, drawn so well and realised and the whole emerges as greater than the sum of the parts in a work that draws us in and captivates us. A curtain is drawn across the stage and reveals to us Claudia’s world – costumes are changed and wigs and props further delineate the characters. Each mask firmly establishes the character, enlivened by Thomson’s fine delivery. And then we, as audience, fill in the details, imagining the movement of the facial masks, willing them into more detailed life. And it enriches the piece, the mask do not limit, they enhance. We meet the people in her life, and Claudia is the one we return to, the anchor for the story.
Sometimes the narrative is a little unclear in a text that can feel a little overloaded with words. Thomson – the writer and the performer – shouldn’t hold back from the power of silence and allowing the audience to breath the material in and out a little before moving on.
Claudia is well motived, trying to accept the changes in her life. She’s an outsider, endearing and believable. I’ve not seen a one person show performed so well at this year’s Fringe as I. Claudia. It is touching, funny, with a stellar performance from Thomson. Unmissable.