Sugarhouse – Some of the best theatrical experiences are those that reflect truth and real life. Allison Dayne Nicole Smith’s one woman show, Scorch, performed as part of the Fringe Festival, was a personal reflection of her life, that examined the various experiences that made her who she is today. Throughout the show she chose to reflect the more challenging experiences, including abuse, obstacles she had to overcome, and those people in her life that held her back and didn’t believe in her.
All of Smith’s of these experiences shaped her in a unique way, paralleling a Phoenix, as in classical mythology, which was a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle. This metaphor lead to the name of the piece, Scorch, suggesting that Allison could not be destroyed by those around her, but that each obstacle only lead her to become stronger and more passionate and independent.
Smith clearly brought this energy of passion and intensity in her committed performance. She successfully utilized colored chalk that she spread across her costume and hair along with music and dancing to aid in the transitions between events that she shared. She also created unique characters that she portrayed with specific mannerisms and characterizations of the people in her story, including her father, mother, sister, a schoolteacher and a director, among others. Smith’s ability to clearly distinguish each character from one another was impressive and she found ways to bring humor to many of these characters despite the negative circumstances that she was sharing in each scene.
However, her passionate and engaging performance could not compensate for a shallow and underdeveloped script. The various scenes did not add a lot of new information about Smith, nor were the characters portrayed in each scene fleshed out. It became somewhat of a repetitive one note thematic of people not believing in Allison, and she enduring with passion and perseverance.
Smith chose to focus on what appeared to be only the most negative or difficult experiences in her life, making her life gloomy and depressing. I was eager for some positive experiences that would have balanced out the negative ones and added some greater insight into her life. I felt that after watching a forty-minute production that I still knew very little about her as a dimensional character and that everything had been revealed about her as a stock character within the first few minutes, making the piece somewhat stereotypical.
Ultimately Scorch was more of performance art than a stand-alone production and I applaud Smith for having the courage to share personal parts of her life that I am sure can be very therapeutic for her and allow for healing. Her courage, passion and determination are inspiring and relatable. The piece is a good start to a one-woman show, though needs greater variety and development.
I still would like to know more about Smith and how these experiences she shared lead to a positive ending in what she accomplished as a result of these trials. I felt there was no clear resolution in the end leaving me somewhat unsatisfied. I look forward to seeing this piece continue to develop as there is a lot of potential and creativity contained within, and as Smith continues with her training in Westminster’s acting program and her independent theater company, The Leading Ladies, I have no doubt that the piece will strengthen and expand.