“The Book That Won’t Close,” Written and Performed by T.L. Forsberg.
Part of the BFF: Binge Fringe Festival
Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
A one-person show is a very delicate form of art within an art and can live and die by the first few minutes of the introduction. T.L. Forsberg’s “The Book That Won’t Close,” instantly envelopes the audience in the beautiful vortex of Forsberg’s life. She is a force, a delightful, intense force with which to be reckoned. Chapter 1 “No Man’s Land,” shows her personal isolation within herself: Deaf versus the hearing world as well as jumping into her sexual addiction. Quite a feat indeed. The character of Treva, a trans, serves as her sponsor and sort of time lord. Forsberg blows out the stereotypes of the deaf world. There should be a continuum like the autism spectrum she says. The audience soon finds out that the hearing world is actually the deaf one because of its attempts to victimize and stunt by using terms as hearing-impaired. Soon TL finds herself in a gay church after a broken relationship in an attempt to find where she belongs. Treva represents the hybrid of the trans community and the notion that sexual fluidity should be respected and not feared, a perfect metaphor for the deaf community as well.
Her fantastic childhood memory recreations with the avuncular, Liam, (Liam Neeson-like, yes, that Liam) her Irish inner guide, is hilarious! Forsberg is a master at unfolding the uncomfortable societal taboos and interacts with the audience quite successfully. The sound/visuals crafted expertly by Glenn Longacre lend credence and merge seamlessly with the chapters. One particular visual, that of a little girl letting go of a balloon, gives the audience a chance to experience the relief of the pain and rejoice in TL’s transformation.
Forsberg’s characters, her graceful, dance-like movements underline her vulnerability and underscore how as a virtuoso conducts a symphony, she conducts the audience through this exquisite journey of her life of addiction, sorrow and healing the little girl within. The character of the little girl represents the dichotomy of deaf and hard of hearing world: the deaf do not accept her and the hearing world says you’re impaired. But at the end they merge in the magnificent hybrid that is Forsberg. Kudos to Jessica Lynn Johnson, who developed and co-directed along with TL, making this one-person, art within an art reverberate in this reviewer’s estimation as the best one-person show I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. This is the show not to be missed! TL Forsberg, is a hypenate in showbiz: actor, director, writer, singer, but most importantly, a successful human, hybrid that came out of the other end of a horrific journey, wiser, smarter and lending much needed love and unity to the world at-large!