Native Girl Syndrome (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Native Girl Syndrome

credit: Marc J. Chalifoux

A challenging representation of First Nation oppression

Lara Kramer goes all out in an uncompromising performance that rejects familiar narratives for an experience that has as much in common with visual as theatrical aesthetics.

There are no concessions made to entertainment here: with a soundtrack that seems to mock the lyrical verities of the songs that break through patches of revving engines, and a refusal to articulate any of the conflicts presented through the bodies of the two performers, Native Girl Syndrome is an hour of uncomfortable, writhing, desperate alienation. The stage is filled with crap, as the duo unpack the contents of the prams that they push, hurl themselves at the floor and trap themselves in swathes of material. Boredom, frustration, anxiety, oppression and terror are transmitted from performer to audience, turning the event into a challenging statement that refuses to provide resolutions or explanations.

Kramer's exacting analysis of the symptoms of the syndrome is undeniably visceral. Presenting a choreography of anguish, she seems to combine a rough naturalism – these bodies react to pressures, twist and tangle – with an impressionistic description of the dark situation. It is deliberately uncommunicative in traditional theatrical terms, but takes the wildness of live art and puts it at the service of a specific political problem: as the first part of a trilogy, it is a bracing introduction that demands engagement from an audience.

Summerhall, run ended.

Native Girl Syndrome

  • 4 stars

Indigenous Contemporary Scene Presented by Indigenous Contemporary Scene, Native Girl Syndrome is inspired by the experience of Lara Kramer's own grandmother’s migration from a remote First Nations community into an unfamiliar urban environment as a young woman. It is at once the story of one woman and the story of many…