When your marriage commendation sounds as if it’s really a funeral eulogy, run. If you can’t, then vomit.
As 7-year-old Alice tells it, “If you keep bad things inside, they make you ugly.” Yet, 30-year-old Alice, who for years swallowed a hollow marriage to an older man, is nothing but strong, funny, and beautiful.
With a title like The Resurrection of Alice, it’s no secret that she survives, and even thrives despite her situation but the ending doesn’t matter half as much as her journey: I’d meander for hours with a storyteller like Perri Gaffney by my side. She is incredible as a writer, performer, and actress. She envelops the audience and whisks them away with her in a tale that, despite its premise, resonates with everyone: we’ve all been handed the raw end of a stick.
For Alice in late 1940’s South Carolina, the stick is her parent’s promise to wed her to “Mr. Tucker,” a wealthy, local man who buys Alice’s hand in exchange for education for her and her siblings and a yearly stock of meat. He’s at least 29 when he first spies her as she stands with her father outside his mill.
Gaffney as young Alice is wide-eyed, imaginative, spirited, and captivating. As older Alice, she is still spirited but with wisdom only begot the trauma of being sold like a cheap whore and condemned to a loveless life. Gaffney slips from young to old, from Alice to Mr. Tucker, and from her eventual children to richly-drawn town folk with ease. You almost forget Ms. Gaffney is one woman and not the aged, small town Preacher with a damaged right leg sermonizing that married women must submit for they are lesser than man.
THE RESURRECTION OF ALICE
Closes September 7, 2013
The Essential Theatre at
900 Massachusetts Ave. NW
1 hour, 45 minutes with 1 intermission
Tuesdays thru Sundays
She recreates Alice’s childhood as if it you were your childhood, or mine or your mother’s, using universal coming-of-age moments—first kiss, first love, a birthday party with boys, sneaking around in the barn to play spin-the-bottle—to light the mood with comfort. And, then, just as you sink into your seat, happy with where Alice is headed, Gaffney sucker punches you. As Alice’s life unravels, she finds herself shaking in Mr. Tucker’s home and facing him. She holds a shotgun as she tells him he will never touch her again.
See this show if you can. And help bring it into the bigger, brighter spotlight it deserves.
The Resurrection of Alice . Written and performed by Perri Gaffney . Original Direction: Talvin Wilks . Presented by The Essential Theatre. Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.