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Fringe Review: The Beauty We Carry

By Brian Carroll on June 17, 2022

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The Beauty We Carry
Created by Karie Richards and Daniel Cushing
Produced by Unit 5 Theatre Collective (Toronto)
60m | PG | Solo, Documentary
Content warnings: Mental Health

“How then shall we live, knowing we won’t always?” (from the Fringe Festival program).

In this culture of perpetual youth, what does it mean to face death? The death of loved ones. Our own eventual demise. The ancients called it “memento mori” (remember that you die).

Karie Richards performs a range of characters based on verbatim interviews. In the beginning of the show, there’s a commonality: regrets for questions left unasked, emotions left unexpressed, sacrifices unacknowledged, opportunities irretrievably lost. The circumstances change but the results are similar. A generation passes and much is left unsaid. A crushing sameness threatens to overwhelm the audience.

That sameness bleeds between the various scenes, blurring the lines between the individual stories, despite of using popular twenieth-century songs to separate the scenes. Eventually I thought to myself “where is this going?” Uncharitably, I thought “Is That All There Is?” was going to be one of the songs of the show.

But then, like new spring growth breaking through cold winter soil, a new pattern emerges. Out of deep sorrow and suffering, glimmers of resilience start to appear. Even as circumstances become more and more dire, the interviewees find inner strength with which to face extraordinary difficulties. Horrific injuries are overcome. Painful loss of parents or siblings haltingly becomes resolution. Unexpected reserves of inner strength overcome mortal danger.

Seemingly incapacitating grief gives way, dare we say, to hope. And the audience breaks out into sustained applause.


The Beauty We Carry by Karie Richards and Daniel Cushing is playing at Studio 1201 (60 Waller Street) until June 25, 2022. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at https://apt613.ca/category/festival/fringe/.

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