Squeeze My Cans (3 stars)

Squeeze My Cans

Michael C Daft

A personal confession from inside the world of Scientology

Cathy Schenkelberg was a member of the Church of Scientology for over a decade, spending close to a million dollars in the quest to become a 'clear' (a stage on the path to 'personal salvation', when the Church deems a person to have become free of the influence of unwanted emotions and memories of trauma). Squeeze My Cans is honest, revealing both her seduction by the cult and the destruction of her confidence, personality and independence, but lacks the structural finesse to do more than tell a harrowing story.

In a rush to expose her experience, Schenkelberg packs too much into the show: key terms are mentioned but not explained, moments of high tension are passed over rapidly, and she does not answer the fundamental question: what could persuade an intelligent woman to join a famously sinister group in the first place? There's a sense that the performance is an act of therapy, an attempt to rid herself of the behaviours she had adopted.

However, she has both charisma and storytelling skills, relating shocking moments – and celebrity gossip – in a way that emphasises how familiarity can even make appalling ideas feel comfortable. When she finally realises the sham of the Church, the hollowness of its teachings and values are made clear – although the repression and selfishness of its internal policing have been exposed before. It's a fascinating tale, told by a great performer, but lacks the theatricality to push home its message.

Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), 3.10pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).

Squeeze My Cans

  • 3 stars

Cathy Schenkelberg discusses her time spent in the Scientology cult.

Comments

1. Victoria Thomas14 Aug 2017, 10:11am Report

Hmmmmmm I have to say I disagree with this review. I thought Cathy's show was amazing. Cathy's show was so engaging and taught me so much!

I have a basic knowledge of Scientology, so I wasn't going in knowing nothing. However, Cathy's perspective showed me a side I have never experienced before. The true extent of the paranoia caused by the auditing process is one that I did not realise. We all know about the danger of the church itself, but I never realised how dangerous the actual therapy was! While I understand it works for some, but it is clear that it is not for everyone!

While "key terms are mentioned but not explained", I liked the fact that the show did not patronise it's audience. It was pretty clear what each term meant by the tone of voice that she used, but the point was obviously the emotions felt, which Cathy really expressed. Inflection and tone of voice was used to perfection.

The argument that "moments of high tension are passed over rapidly" as being some sort of negative is ridiculous. The high paced energy kept me on the edge of my seat the whole show!

It is also ridiculous to suggest that "she does not answer the fundamental question: what could persuade an intelligent woman to join a famously sinister group in the first place?" I think it was completely clear that she was persuaded because she wanted to further her career, find meaning in herself and help people.

I also feel that the structure of the show was excellent. Yes, it might have seen somewhat erratic, but it was structured like an auditing session!! Only a small amount of background knowledge would have made this clear, and it does seem that the reviewer expected a 'Basics of Scientology'.

I think one does get a lot more from the show if one has a very basic knowledge of Scientology. But even without a basic knowledge, the story is thrilling and a truly personal story that you don't get ANYWHERE else!

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