Whitefire Theatre Solofest Presents “Clementine.” Written and Performed by April Wish. Directed and Developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
April Wish is a self-confessed Irish American. She has a big, rambunctious family and grew up in a world of cousins and sleepovers and putting on plays in back gardens and furiously affectionate and supportive relatives all around her. What bliss!
When she wanted to become an actress she was met with love and support, and when she got off track after marriage and babies and lost her way a little she was met with the same. All this is relevant because her show, named after her daughter, is marinated in the love of her world.
Her husband, her mother, her grandmother, her father, her aunts and uncles and cousins, they all seep through every line and every yearning. She tells the story of how she got lost from her path, the stress of motherhood, the wildly pleasurable distractions of children and the tearing in two of a mother who needs to perform but feels guilty even considering time away from her kids to do something as silly as act. The stage is festooned with toys and kid paraphernalia, just like home. She shows videos of her performing in her garden as a child and photos of her most loved memories, all so perfectly balanced with her stories and her life and her longings.
It’s an age-old dilemma and one most of us struggled with from time to time. There’s also the terrible guilt of feeling the thrill of escape when home is in the rearview mirror. But although these themes are familiar and these stories told before, April Wish has a way of telling her own particular story in such a way that feels bold and fresh and new. She is brutally honest but also sweetly and intensely lovable. April writes so beautifully that we are laughing and crying and empathizing and shocked all in the same breath. Her candor and her joyous abandon are intoxicating. Her ability to morph seamlessly between toddler, grandmother, husband and herself at lightning speed is ridiculous.
April expresses the things we all feel and if we are lucky enough to be harassed and clung to by our small children we all know. The pressures, the pain and the tremendous joy. We also know that unless we take control and make choices and demand our own needs be a part of our life, no one else will. It’s thrilling to see a woman with such talent as April succeed like this, creating this perfect play and giving it to us so humbly. It’s funny, touching, unique, riveting and very, very important. April reaches into the audience and knows us, she connects with her words and her smiling and sometimes tearful face. We are her and she somehow draws energy from how important that is. We are always so quick to diminish our gifts, us mothers, as if nothing is more important than our kids, and nothing is of course, not more. But sometimes some things are as important, like ourselves, and it’s fine to admit that, it’s good to know that and April Wish has made a wonderful, gorgeous, brilliant play around it. Truly exceptional. Clementine must be bursting with pride…Loved it!!!!