Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Connie Wookey: Denied, cleverly interweaves story-telling, comedy, music and drama in a one woman show that combines 2 key life stories: A USA VISA being denied, and when her plane starts to faulter mid-flight. By blending these styles, we move through Wookey’s story, which actually a lot more complicated than you’re led to believe.
Connie opens her show by introducing us to her co-star ‘performer’: Cassio. For a brief moment, (maybe a Nano-second) you think you’re missing someone hiding on stage, when in fact, Connie has just introduced us to Cassio – the second hand keyboard she bought off Craig’s List. Cassio is an important part of the show, we soon find out, as Wookey brings much of her story to life through song-parodies, so it’s important we know that Cassio will be assisting with this process.
After being introduced to Cassio, Connie Wookey launches into her show, which is split into two life events. One event – the title of her show – revolves around her being denied a VISA into the United States of America. Seeking work as an actor – with a job already waiting for her – we watch and listen as Wookey tries desperately to stay in her new ‘home’ – even though she’s not actually sure she wants to be there.
The second life event – and probably the ‘turbulent’ of the two, is the slow narrative of her journey to her cousin’s funeral in Canada. After her cousin’s passing away in a plane crash, Wookey desperately tries to pay her last goodbye – when her own small plane encounters mechanical issues. While not a ‘life flashing before eyes’ story, Wookey is faced with her own mortality, while trying to decide which direction her own journey should take.
Interspersed through the story telling, are song parodies, each one fitting in with parts of her voyage. Adele, Frozen and Dolly Parton are all musical ‘guests’, as their lyrics are adapted to match the theme at the time.
Wookey’s cleaver use of minimal props means that the stage is largely hers, which allows her to move around freely, and where necessary. The limited props she did choose to use were well thought out and added lovely little details. Unfortunately, her lighting didn’t always follow her movements, meaning she was in darkness for several moments of the show, and the impact of her normally animated expression was lost.
Wookey’s comedy – while well written – was sometimes nervously delivered at times, so some of the jokes were lost. Her musical abilities shone, however, and allowed for the overall story to flow freely and very enjoyably. Added to this was the emotional impact of the story she had to tell, with several poignant moments pushing the audience to think a little deeper about their own life choices.
Denied was a thoroughly enjoyable show – and long live the wonderful little toy surprise at the end.