San Francisco Fringe 2015
Entertaining story about an author’s connection to renowned author Grace Paley. Told sincerely with energy and wit.
Bárbara Selfridge has a distinct story to tell in Stalking Grace, it touches on several topics but is mainly about her connection to author Grace Paley. Selfridge is a personable and perky performer as she recounts her experience as a student in Grace Paley’s writing group. She is bright and funny, quotes Paley’s advice about what to write – or not write. It’s clear that she’s a fan of Paley and this leads to a later connection when she becomes her personal assistant. Selfridge has an energetic presence as she takes you through a lifetime of writing experience. The story is complexly structured and told with clarity.
Going back to her earlier life Selfridge wittily describes how she realises she’s a rebel and tries different things, such as social feminism, as she goes through her youth. Often playing different characters in the story, Selfridge speaks dialogue between Paley and Paley’s lover then husband Bob Nichols. The couple converse a lot with Selfridge who is an expert organiser, and it is Paley, according to Nichols who needs organising.
Selfridge’s duties for Paley lead her to ask why women don’t have female spouses to help them. Opening herself up to share this story, Selfridge is smart, sincere and entertaining. There are some snippets of songs in between sections (this seems to be a one person show style at the SF Fringe this year in the many solo shows, all with song snippets, which can work) but here they seemed thrown in at the last minute and following a formula. A work in progress, as Selfridge stated at the end of her performance, there is more to be done to define the goal, develop and hone the show. It’s a very good start, with more than enough material for a one-hour performance already. Therefore, choices need to be made (as Paley may advise) about what to write – or not write.