If you have ever had the good fortune to see a Pam Levin show, then you will perhaps know why I was so looking forward to this one.
Pam is a brilliant storyteller and a hilarious comedic actor. Allthough I have seen three previous shows of hers and they have had the occasional serious note, they were all ostensibly comedies. So something more serious then??
“The Quiet Room,” is billed as what would happen if a schizoid ballerina is locked in a room with a duck. Although that intro does make it seem like it would be funny, it is a much, much more serious piece. It’s still funny though…confused?
No need to be. Like everything in life, this play is a mysterious blend of hilarious and terrifying, of poignant and profoundly sad. Set in the ‘quiet room’ of an asylum, Pam plays a schizophrenic inmate, isolated from the others and incarcerated in this special room due to her recent bad behavior toward her least favorite nurse, that and a tendency to spit out her medication.
In the room we discover just how nuts this woman is as she revisits moments of her lifetime of crazy, all the while careening and rolling and dancing across the stage. During this assault on herself and our senses she invents a friend, a duck, or more accurately ,a shoe duck…she is lonely.
Between her and the duck we dive head first into her psyche and tumble around for while inside the erratic and frightening space she lives. Reeling and bouncing from laughter to terror through sadness, loss, confusion and regret, Pam Levin masterfully manipulates her audience in a story of both an intense longing for peace and a joyous revelry in her own magical, mythical, spectacular nature.
We judge don’t we? These souls who tiptoe on the edge of our world, seeing past us and what we consider normal and somehow surviving darknesses we probably never could ourselves. Pam gives this particular lost soul a grace, a wholeness and a beauty that comes from her own unique sense of empathy, understanding and love.
It’s a beautiful play. One Pam has been performing now for 20 years and her love for it and her deep connection to this women fills her fully out, breathing such a life into her that we are transfixed. But then Pam is an actress who manages to do that in everything she does.
Mental illness is far more a part of our lives than we choose to acknowledge and we are all just a few breaths away from madness ourselves, if we are honest. ”There but for the grace of god go we” after all. This show is a way to touch crazy for a few minutes and to remind ourselves just how lucky we truly are. Bravo!!