Grace After Incest
We’ll admit we approached this first-person “healing ritual” with trepidation, given the title, but incest is a topic theater has addressed since the eras of Sophocles and Shakespeare. Going onstage to confront the skeletons in the family closet has a long history, so we went.
Writer-performer Grace Fae, a graduate of Yale University, has fashioned what is nearly a solo show (though Michele Koehler and Wendy Westfall also perform, veiled in black, and there are three 11-foot-tall puppets). Fae starts out the show in a pentagram painted on the floor; keep in mind, this is a ritual. Then she proceeds to sort out memories of sexual abuse and dictatorial control by her father, partly through inward monologues, partly by speaking directly to the audience, partly by depicting a family meal using puppets and partly through song. She sings quite well, in a rhyming, rapping manner recalling Katie Rubin’s recent Insides Out!
The show is only 70 minutes long but covers much territory: factoids about how often children are abused, intense personal confrontations and turning points, and working through the past with help from the goddess. The transition into goddess worship toward the end was hard to follow after the mix of first-person narrative and documentary-style presentation that preceded it, but Fae’s performance is impressive and remarkably intense, and the piece (directed by Ray Tatar) works.
A lot of people will decide to avoid this show because of the subject matter, but if you think you can handle an evening about incest and recovery, this one’s worth seeing.