Hollywood Fringe 2019
Swedish blonde becomes Swedish bald.
Jannica Olin was a beautiful Swedish blonde actress and model, she is now a beautiful Swedish bald actress and model, having suddenly and inexplicably developed alopecia. The journey that this inciting incident kicked off is the basis for this thoughtful and inspiring self-penned one-woman show.
Developed with (and directed by) solo show maven Jessica Lynn Johnson, the story is told artfully and theatrically. At the top of the show we meet a vibrant motivational speaker who invites us to share our pre-conceptions about her. A be-wigged Jannica then reads our comments and the story begins.
As a follicly challenged man, I am aware of how that journey has affected my self-image. I now have to concede that it must be a thousand times more traumatic for a woman, particularly a Swedish blonde who was the epitome of what that two-word descriptor brings to mind.
We meet doctors, both bogus and genuine, as Jannica begins to worry about her nascent bald patches. The condition is an auto-immune reaction, her body is misidentifying her hair as an unwelcome intruder and is rejecting it. There is no known cause or cure.
The diagnosis forces Jannica to examine everything she believes about herself; her talent, her beauty, and her place in Hollywood.
The show is cleverly constructed so that we get used to the archetypal long-haired Swede before us for a good thirty minutes before the wig comes off and we have to re-adjust, as she did, to the unconventional bald beauty that she becomes. Well-meaning strangers assume that she is undergoing chemo and express their misplaced sympathy and support.
The show is ultimately defiant and triumphant; some doors were closed to her, but other doors opened and the rooms they led to are probably cooler than the ones she is now not so welcome in.
There are a plethora of one-person shows at the Hollywood Fringe, this is undoubtedly one of the best examples of the form. The story is worth telling, and is beautifully and artfully told.