Mapping Grief tells the story of Gina Granter and the journeys she’s taken across Canada and the United States with her dear, departed love. Our storyteller explores life after love and how gaining a new love can never taint the memory of the past. The story is told piece by piece and comes together like a puzzle as each shred of the narrative is delivered.
Granter has previously performed Mapping Grief at Confabulation and Yarn, both of which are storytelling events that happen in Montreal. The production is directed by Nisha Coleman, whose show Self Exile (another one-woman storytelling feat) was awarded the best english production at last year’s Fringe (you can also see Coleman alongside Jeff Gandel at this year’s festival in Things Drugs Taught Me).
The piece itself is a beautifully written account of a love story by someone who feels very deeply. Granter (who, as is evident in the play, is very well read) expresses herself with eloquence and raw emotion that might leave other artists in fits of uncontrollable weeping. The story, while very specific to Granter’s life, felt accessible and relatable. There were sprinkles of comedy throughout, and when the show finally finished you couldn’t help but feel like you had been friends with Gina for a long time.
While Granter is clearly an excellent writer, there were times when the audience could see the nerves break through, leaving the performer in a moment of silence searching for the words. These small blips, while infrequent, pulled concentration from a story that had otherwise entirely engrossed the audience. All of this, however, could very well be attributed to opening night jitters and might be totally inconsequential in the shows to come.
The stage was almost entirely bare safe for a small tickle trunk and a set of wind chimes placed within reach of the actor. The chimes held a very symbolic meaning, sounding beautiful in the intimate Montreal Improv venue and executing their purpose perfectly in setting ambience for the performance. The trunk, in its turn, housed a few props that had a recurring significance throughout the piece.
There were brief moments of respite between each bit of story in which a blackout occurred and music (usually relevant to the ensuing portion of the story) played. These pauses were quite welcome as some of the subject matter was hard to take in all at once. While the song choices within the pauses themselves were great, including a recorded piece by Granter’s departed love, the execution of the transitions themselves left something to be desired. All the same the music created a positive effect on the show as a whole.
All told, Mapping Grief is a beautifully written and moving story by the truly brave artist Gina Granter that deserves to be heard. As an artist myself I found her vulnerability and willingness to share such an intimate story equally refreshing and inspiring. You can see Mapping Grief at the Montreal Improv Theatre until June 18th.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor David Hudon
Fairy Squall presents “Mapping Grief”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Montreal Improv Theatre A, 3697 Saint-Laurent Blvd.
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival