Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Maria is a young woman whose whole life is a car crash in Leann O’Kasi’s self-performed solo piece inspired by a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story. An orphan on the run from herself as much as the voices in her head who vie noisily for her attention, Maria takers flight to Brazil, where she finds release through hedonism and a job as a magician’s assistant with the man she eventually marries. Deep down inside, however, the voices are still calling, and Maria finds herself waking up in an institution that becomes a home of sorts where she can stand still long enough to finally face up to her past.
Tales of ordinary madness may be ten a penny these days, and there are shades here of everything from The Yellow Wallpaper to the eponymous heroine of Alan Warner’s Morvern Callar. O’Kasi manages to pack a similarly contemporary punch to her performance, which, in Alison Peebles’ production, feels like the most natural flesh and blood extension to her words.
Maria is a streetwise estuary kid, whose buried history is casebook stuff without either writer or director ever feeling the need to go for the sensationalist jugular. In performance, this translates into a series of snappy scenes that see Maria map out the lost highway of her life. Mark Hughes’ lighting design swings moodily between clinically bright and S.A.D. black-outs as the amplified babble nips Maria’s head from every corner. O’Kasi is better known in Scotland at least as a director, and is currently the Tron’s artist-in-residence. It is her singularly unflinching portrait of Maria, though, that gives the play its clarity and edge.
The Herald, October 7th 2010