Deborah Frances White: Half a Can of Worms
Moving and rewarding encounter from skilled writer and performer at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Deborah Frances-White offers a very tightly scripted autobiographical narrative about the search for her biological mother. Using such a prescriptive method of storytelling when dealing with the emotional subject of her experiences can be difficult. When the method of conveyance is slick, there is the possibility of lessening the emotional impact. On the other hand, there is something reassuring – and gratifying – about watching a carefully concocted piece of theatre emerge and feeling safe in the performer’s skilled hands.
Frances-White manages to walk a tight line between professionalism and sincerity. Her consummate ability manifests in a measured, polished show; she easily brushes aside some highly unsettling microphone glitches and refuses to let them derail proceedings. Stepping out of monologue a few brief but meaningful times, she draws the audience in and takes them with her on an affecting journey.
As she gets further into the story and reveals more of the emotional fallout from her investigation into the woman who gave her up for adoption, there is audible sniffling from the audience. While riveting in parts, a few moments do seem to lag, though that could have something to do with the 75-minute running time being at odds with the internal timer that chimes after the usual 55-minute comedy slot is over. Overall, a moving and rewarding encounter from a skilled writer and performer.
Pleasance Dome, run ended.