Reviewed by Julia Bueneman
by Madeleine Hall
45 min / Storytelling, Solo / G
From beginning to end, this show was spectacular.
Madeleine Hall has written a beautiful, eloquent and touching story (that I assume was nonfiction but cannot confirm) about her experiences both with her grandmother and with the long term palliative and geriatric care systems. An incredible storyteller, she takes you to the middle of everything that occurred – on a journey that many people can relate to in regards to death, dying and the responsibilities that come along with natural death and elder care. The incredible detail of everyday experience woven throughout made me feel homesick for somewhere I’d never known – and a part of a family I had never met.
The minimalist set (some chairs, a box of small objects) was incredibly well used, the space on stage filled and the movement throughout the play fluid. Hall filled the stage with her voice and presence, was captivating throughout the piece, and used all of her props to their most wonderful extents.
The soundtrack to any piece is so very important and I cannot say enough fantastic things about the music used in Ethel. Hall uses several songs throughout the show, all perfectly paired to compliment and highlight the show and the breaks throughout.
This piece touches on many elderly care aspects that are frequently cast aside and are still, in some way or another, socially taboo. Hall shines a bright, abrasive light on some of the holes and problems in this ever-important system while maintaining a beautiful outlook on the situations she (and mostly her grandmother) were faced with.
Ethel by Madeleine Hall is playing at Studio 311 (135 Séraphin-Marion) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and in advance. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.