I Heart Catherine Pistachio

I love this type of performance.  Intelligent, well thought through, combining great dialogue with powerful physical theatre, leaving you at the end with an emotional reaction that you can’t fully rationalise.

I Heart Catherine Pistachio is a story of domestic abuse in a normal suburban household.  Or as Encounter Theatre’s website says ‘a dangerously dark physical comedy about a square-eyed girl in a suburban swamp of abuse’.  The combination of dialogue and physical theatre is uncomfortably effective.  The dialogue has a wonderful tempo, but is generally flat and implies that everything is just fine.  It is the dance and movement that shows the suffering and vengeance in the relationships.  The effect is that we hear that everything is OK, but we feel Catherine’s pain.  Towards the end we ask ourselves why we didn’t recognise sooner what was happening to the girl.

The two actors play all the parts; the parents, Lionel and Linda, sitting on chairs as if from an ‘American Gothic’ painting; the two sides to Catherine, the girl whose life is torn apart; the grandfather, a ballet dancer, crippled by slipping on a toy;  the TV star that Catherine idolises.  The set is simple, two chairs inside a large white square that controls the space in which any action can take place.  There are pop songs that draw the action back towards what you might expect of a normal life.  Age and gender are fluid, as if anything is allowed in this world the parents have created.

This is a very fast, intense performance that requires a lot of concentration to follow the characters and to pick out the subtext within the stories that are told.  The timing is perfect and the physical routines unsettling and disturbing.  But it is the glimpses into what is really happening under the surface that create the greatest effect.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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