Hello Susanna

solo performance · susanna leonard · Ages 10+ · United States of America

one person show
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June 05, 2016 original article

What I liked

This is a personal journey that exposes Leonard’s anger, self-doubt and regret, but, more importantly, it also champions her desire to move past those restrictive feelings and find a new path, one that gives her the freedom to add her stories to those of the strong women who came before her.

What I didn't like

Much of the play consists of a conversation between Susanna and Anna Ruth using body posturing and vocal changes to differentiate between the two characters. Unfortunately, the transitions are awkward and, before long, the vocal patterns start to mix, physicality becomes half-hearted, and the characters end up less clearly drawn with each subsequent passage.

Director Carla Cackowski further adds to the confusion with her static staging, which mainly consists of Leonard standing center stage while carrying out the dialogue. When she’s not rooted to that position, she is writing social media posts on her laptop, another directorial choice that grows tiresome. It’s distracting to watch Leonard mime the action while trying to time her typing to the accompanying recorded voiceover of her thoughts. It also trivializes her feelings to share them in such a general way. Raise the stakes, define who she is speaking to, and we’ll care about her story as much as she does. Otherwise you have a cathartic experience for the actor but not for the audience.

My overall impression

The show has potential but needs more rehearsal and stronger direction to really do it justice.

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