A one-woman show about the effects of teen suicide doesn’t sound like a rip-roaring night out by any accounts, but Jeanette Rizzi’s ‘Blindsided’ manages to straddle the line between funny and tragic with a grace unexpected.
Beginning with ‘outcast’ Jeanette’s upbringing as a daughter of a monk and a nun (both, she hastens to add, well out of the orders before embarking on the baby-making), and as a full-blooded Italian in the ‘red-neck’ town in Florida where she’s the local ‘milano’ (or machiatto, or marinara, or whatever word the locals confuse for Mulatto), Cher-lover Jeanette knows she’s bound for greater things. Always feeling the odd-one-out, in her family as well as in school, things take a turn for the better when she meets Katie – gum-chewing, foul-mouthed best friend. Whether taking teenage road trips to get free condoms from the health clinic or dancing their pain away, the two friends are each others’ rocks in hard times and good. Until Katie turns a shotgun on herself and everything changes. Following Jeanette’s guilt and depression and escape to LA, the play charts her ups, her downs and her realisations about life. There was equal laughter and tears from the audience – never sentimental, the play was at times gut-wrenchingly tragic or side-splittingly funny.