As writer/performer Allie Weigh describes, “what it is to be a mother is the basic existential question which is at the root of Divided Heart“. Those are big words for such a simplistic play. Weigh also states that for this show, she vacates her psychotherapist chair – but does she? Given that Divided Heart has already played last year as Love and Loathing, you’d think the piece would be polished to perfection. It’s not a bad show and Weigh is likeable enough, but it really does play out as self-psychoanalyzing, which is anathema to the one-person show. That’s often the reason given when people say they don’t like self-penned, one-person shows – because they can read as a self-help session (or audience therapy) and not theatre.
That’s not to say there aren’t good points to the show. Weigh’s violin playing, lovely voice and groovy back beats add an interesting level to the spoken word sections. I often wished for more beats and less talk. Weigh is smart, open and charming. She can hold an audience and clearly understands herself and her own needs. You want to keep listening to the story, waiting for something to happen. The ‘Magic Wand’ piece comes at the right time. It’s a delicious insight into Mommy’s 3-minute self-pleasure that rejuvenates. It’s terrific to hear about her kids, beautifully raised with a non-judgmental sexual attitude that I imagine extends to open-minded adult attitudes. I honestly believe she’s a great mom.
I’m not a mother, and while that could play into my subdued enthusiasm for Divided Heart, I’ve enjoyed many shows with subjects way outside my wheelhouse. Here, it’s not the overall theme that is the problem, but the text and execution. The script lacks innovation and originality, and often repeats itself. I think we all understand that after you have a baby you have to feed it and take care of it and make sure nothing happens to it. We all know that mothers are conflicted, often giving up many of their own wants and desires and creative outlets. I was hoping Weigh would offer some fresh insight, unique solutions that worked for her or a raison d’être she was compelled to write this particular show.
There is no director credit listed, and therein also lies much of the problem. The tone and pace is calm, soft-spoken and subdued throughout. Weigh wanders back and forth at times. On the other hand, she does everything with a brimming heart.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Janis Kirshner
Allie Weigh Productions presents “Divided Heart”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Black Theatre Workshop Studio, 3680 Jeanne-Mance
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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