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San Francisco Fringe 2022


Beth McLaughlin

Genre: Solo Performance

Venue: EXIT Theatre, San Francisco


Low Down

My father was a soldier. A lawyer. A Catholic. A ghost. There is nothing more destructive than the well-intentioned man.


A big yard, trees, yellow bees…the bucolic scene is vivid and authentic….and so the story unfolds…

Sitting on a high chair Beth McLaughlin shares memories of her father and growing up with her family. Like any family there are highs and lows and McLaughlin’s is personable and her story is palpable. Her easy storytelling style invites us to listen and we are so comfortable in her presence that she quickly becomes a friend, and we are enthralled.

Written and performed by McLaughlin she tells a well thought out series of stories with great clarity, as if she is reliving them in an atmosphere that is so real and sincere. She talks about her sister, playing the violin and of course her father. She is warm and welcoming and her performance is laced with self effacing comments and humility. McLaughlin gestures naturally and looks at us as individually as if she is talking to each of us personally.

Sometimes her soft voice changes in tone depending on who or what she is talking about, using a variety of voice qualities that add to the emotion of this personal story. A highlight is when she is talking about her parents meeting – her eyes sparkle at this joyous and romantic moment.

Sections are interspersed with short selections of pensive music that give the sense of time passing – or perhaps a moment to reflect on the imagery carefully drawn in our minds. McLaughlin does not shy away from the depth of the story and she shares how she feels when she describes events. It’s all so relatable, even if different from our own experiences. McLaughlin’s timing is spot on and we are easily swept up and away in her anecdotes and emotional moments.

There is a lovely story about the cousins and observations about their place in the family that is particularly well crafted and told. It’s rich simplicity and spareness of words is wittily spoken in a matter of fact way and becomes an important point of the arc of this journey, which suddenly swerves.

McLaughlin’s performance and writing are wonderful – poignant and meaningful – told with with humor, pathos and humanity.