Big Girls Don’t Cry
nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
February 24, 2012
Big Girls Don’t Cry at this year’s FRIGID New York Festival is a fun one-woman piece of clown theater from Canada. Although it has all the patter of stand up, and while Rachelle Elie may be a loquacious presence, she is firmly based in clown energy. The show is a light-hearted revelry of mid-aged dress-up in the midst of knowing more than a twentysomething but feeling like a messed-up teenager at heart.
Elie portrays a charming mess, bouncing from retail therapy to songs in praise of her husband (the "Obi Ben Kenobi of obstetrician-gynecologists") to random memories of schoolyard humor that are slapped out with glee. In a rambling and yet energetic forty-five minutes she teases at the corners of deeper meanings, using a collage of memories, song and storytelling to give voice to an underlying angst. It is an entertaining malaise and if the piece does meander a bit, it does so in a way that aptly conveys how hard it can be to obtain a tidy resolution of feelings. Here is a woman with a life that is “complete” and yet there is still that wondering: “So about those life choices I made….hmmm.” It is not dissatisfaction or whining but just noticing that while time is passing and a life may have all the trappings of adulthood, it is possible to not really feel any more grounded or settled than when a kid.
At her best when she is angry, Elie is utterly committed to the simplified integrity of intention that underlies good clown and for all the wandering, she is firmly at home in her light mania and going to have a good time.