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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Syringa Tree

Last night, after an all-day workshop, I went (exhaustedly) to the Playhouse to see The Syringa Tree with my friend Sheri. I wanted to go but I was worried that I was too tired to enjoy the play.

I was wrong.

This one-woman play - written by Pamela Gien - is astonishing. No, more that astonishing, I've never seen anything like it before. I've been to plays all over the world, but I don't think I've seen one that struck me the way this one did.

Caroline Cave - actor and dancer - plays a total of 24 different parts, without an intermission. She stands there on the stage in a pale pink loose dress, barefoot. The only prop is a pair of thick ropes coming down from the ceiling with a swing at the bottom of them.

The play is set in South Africa, Elizabeth and her family are English, though they've lived in South Africa for generations. Her father is a doctor. Her grandparents are farmers. Caroline Cave plays everyone from Elizabeth at 6 to Elizabeth as an adult, from an Afrikaans minister, to their black chaffeur, to her nanny and her nanny's child. She plays her parents, her grandparents, the police.

It's a tour de force and if you get a chance, and this play comes to your town, don't miss it.

You'll laugh and cry and be astonished. This woman transforms herself from character to character with no props, just her voice and the movements of her body.


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