Theater review: Strong performance, moving script make ‘Solitary Choice’ a Fringe highlight

07/23/2013 2:51 PM

07/23/2013 2:51 PM

Australian actress Tamara Lee is riveting in “A Solitary Choice,” a one-person theater piece that maintains a meticulous balance between visceral performance, visual imagery and a literary script that could stand alone as a short story. This is one of the strongest dramatic pieces I’ve seen so far at KC Fringe.

Sheila Duncan’s play is by turns poignant, sardonic and excruciating in its portrait of a woman who finds herself in a classic dilemma with no palatable solution. Ruth, a reserved bank employee, has led an ordinary and predictable life with her husband and young son until one day the unexpected happens: She is spontaneously seduced by the music of Carlos, a South American musician with whom she has an impulsive fling.

The resulting pregnancy offers her two grim choices: Have the baby, leave her husband and make a life with Carlos; or abort her unborn daughter and remain haunted forever by the child she knew and loved in both a literal and mystical sense.

This is gritty stuff, filled with heartache and the collapse of expectations in the face of reality. Lee, directed by Michael Allen, is in total command of the material and takes the viewer on a journey that yields indelible images. Polished lighting and an evocative sound design contribute to the vivid nature of the performance.

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