Fringe review: She Grew Funny

SHE GREW FUNNY by Joanne OSullivan (OSullivan Lane/Brett McCaig). At the Factory Studio. July 11 at 2:45 pm, July 12.


SHE GREW FUNNY by Joanne OSullivan (OSullivan Lane/Brett McCaig). At the Factory Studio. July 11 at 2:45 pm, July 12 at 11:15 pm, July 13 at 6 pm, July 15 at 7:30 pm, July 16 at 9:30 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Joanne OSullivan was six when her mom died of cancer the same age her own daughter, Eliza, turned last year. She Grew Funny is her heart-rending solo show about how losing her mom affected her and may have given her personality traits that shes unknowingly passing on to Eliza.

On a stage bare except for a stool and stand, OSullivan recounts a beautifully detailed story about tracing certain behaviour the need to be liked, for instance, and apologizing for things that arent her fault to abandonment issues.

Theres lots of humour in here, particularly in a sequence in which she shows how she cant accept compliments, or another in which she apologizes to a man whos rubbing his crotch against her on the streetcar.

But theres lots of rage also, especially in a scene in which a manicurist with a thick accent makes an offensive comment to Eliza, and OSullivan debates whether she should speak up.

While the particulars are specific to OSullivans life, audiences will relate to a wide range of observations. And theres a fascinating comment suggested in the title about how tragedy and comedy are connected.

Chris Earles direction is unshowy there are no flashy effects and little theatricality. But although the ending could be tweaked, the pacing feels just right, especially as OSullivan parcels out nine memories of her mother throughout the show.

Bring Kleenex for this one.

Don’t miss our interview with Joanne OSullivan, who details developing her production with us here.

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