The last of the three one-person shows I saw this year, Narratively Satisfying was one heck of an emotional journey. It takes a special something to make a one-person show work, and Jennifer Lack has not only that special something but liberal sprinkle of extra special somethings on top of it.
This kind of extended monologue needs to hit a variety of notes and keep hitting them. Lack hit these notes and, in almost all instances, hit each with just the right amount of force. She created a character who told the story with a stark, intimate, and often awkward honesty. The tone was apologetic but unflinching, and took some intense turns, particularly as the piece neared its conclusion with Lack always always in perfect control of the emotional power of the piece. It was also really quite funny, with Lack wielding a very endearing kind of comic talent that’s undoubtedly clever but not the annoying kind of clever, which is difficult to achieve.
The set-up and venue made for a very personal feel, I’m not sure to what extent (if any) that Lack drew on her own life for the piece but either way it felt like one of the most real performances I saw at this Fringe. The setting and style completely did away with any barrier between actor and audience, and the conceit of a book-reading was the perfect medium to convey this story between the two. Lack peppered the piece with frequent breaks, backtracks, and nervous laughs that relaxed the audience and let them connect with the story she tells more readily and willingly. This payed off when Lack later shows off her acting shops with a devastatingly emotional delivery that stabbed me several times in my cold heart. Fringe is always where my heart finds itself defrosted most often, and performers like Jennifer Lack are the reason why.
The story itself was lovely, heartbreaking at times, but lovely and all-too relatable to too many of us. So many Fringe shows I’ve seen tap into that same sad universality. That said, there were elements very specific to this specific piece and character that allowed it to forge its own identity in the crowd. I absolutely loved the ‘letters to Virginia Woolf’ framing of the piece, which was one of a handful of things that gave this piece its extra dimensions. There are moments, I will admit, where it takes a little while longer than it needs to in getting to certain points, but these are few and far between, and hard to remember once you’ve reached the end.
A truly beautiful piece and one of the most memorable long monologues I’ve seen in my time at the Fringe. Jennifer Lack is one of those names I now know to keep an eye out for.