March 2009

Letters to My Grandma
March 3 – 8, 2009 Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace Toronto
A report by David Fujino
A young woman walks into the light.

She's carrying a brass circular tray bearing flowers and her grandmother's letters.

And she's been singing a ceremonial song in a rich, strong, and supple voice.

It is her wedding day.

Anusree Roy
As she reads from her grandmother's letters, the young bride becomes her grandmother right in front of our eyes.

Later, she's the granddaughter on her wedding day, suffering pangs of guilt because she's not beside her grandmother.

Anusree Roy's ability to slip in and out of her female characters' lives was wonderful to watch, and her direct and truthful physical acting consistently touched our emotions.

And when her character (the "daughter of a wealthy man") spoke with a sharp intake of breath, then kept repeating this; and when this hiccup-like rhythm continued into other women's conversations as well, the admirably high level of artifice and self-awareness in Roy's acting and writing was apparent.

It was a form of conceptual art in acting; you keep repeating a sound — such as a sharp intake of breath — and thereby place accents and cycles and new feelings onto the relentless flow that is human breath and breathing and talking and saying your lines.

The lighting was equally simple and effective. Overhead light revealed the actor and defined the playing area, and at stage left a long red sash hung down, later to be clutched between both arms, or simply grasped.

Good theatre is made from this, and the physical and vocal-based theatre of writer and actor Anusree Roy was clearly good theatre.

In parts of her one-woman show, Roy looked older, but just before blackout, she spoke out towards the audience and her face was young and radiant and open.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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