Jennifer Kenyon scored a success at last year’s fringe with her one-woman show about triplet vaudevillians (The Last Known Recording of The Lovely Lenore Sisters). This year she again explores the murky territory of sibling relationships with “Aurora and Larry”.
The show starts with a welcoming-of-the-sun ritual dance and the twirling of colored silks.
Aurora is a woman who is trying to make sense of her life. She and her brother were raised in a hippie commune by their serial deserter father and terminally flaky mother. When their father flees from cops, the rest of the dysfunctional family look for him until the kids are taken into care. “Polaris” (Larry’s full name) rebels against his parents’ rebellion, becoming a crew-cut wannabe soldier and forming bonds with his square foster-parents. Aurora remains forever a flower in the wind, fragile but hopeful; willing to see the light in everyone. She glides through life without putting down roots, or forming lasting relationships. Was her communal rearing a blessing or a curse?
The story is told mainly as first-person anecdote by Aurora, Larry appears fully formed briefly, as a PTSD suffering veteran, he has anger and resentment where Aurora has optimism. He gives his back story in the form of an epic rap while leaning on his cane.
Aurora has a song too, a charming folksy ukulele number about the commune that is the only real home she has known.
This is a very delicate show about the subtle shifting sands (or planets) that make us who we are, and different from our siblings even though we may have similar DNA and exactly the same up-bringing.
Kenyon plays Aurora as an innocent clairvoyant, spiritual and intuitive, there is no mocking of her hippy-dippiness, but if you do laugh, then she is simply pleased that she has made you happy. And there is no judgment about her brother, who ends up hating everything.
There is little conflict or resolution but there is contrast and acceptance, these are two confused souls who have reacted to circumstances differently. Neither of them has achieved anything in the way of worldly success, that doesn’t matter to Aurora, though it might to Larry.
The fragility of the story sometimes makes the audience worry for the performer, there are no big characters to hide behind and the truths being mined are specks of gold-dust rather than big nuggets. In spite of ( or perhaps because of) its deceptive modesty, Aurora and Larry manages to illuminate little corners of the soul that very few shows reach.