The Barn Identity - Erika MacDonald

Reviewed By Luke Dodge

Fringe Reviewer

As if pulled straight from a Joni Mitchell song, Erika MacDonald's solo show weaves a magic spell by using the beauty of falling down barns as a metaphor for life. A pre-recorded musical accompaniment is performed on acoustic guitar by composer and director Paul Strickland. Repeating voice-over interludes slowly build on one another to unlock the secrets of her past.

MacDonald prowls the stage with a commanding, yet gentle, stage presence as Strickland’s music provides a light folky background. She paints a picture with her hands and words that intertwine with the melodies, inseparable from one another.

A combination of using the microphone and speaking freely to the audience clearly divides when storytelling turns to audience conversation. MacDonald encourages us to participate in her story, similar to a guided meditation. All this gives the feeling that she is talking "with’" the audience, rather than "at" them.

Despite physically being in different states, MacDonald and Strickland work together as if they were in the same room. Credit goes to sound and light operator Lacey Pacheco who flawlessly integrated Strickland’s recordings into MacDonald’s live performance. Subtle lighting shifts further help set the mood and differentiate between past and present. Even the costume pieces play an important role, as the snap of her fan and sashay of her camouflage patterned dress become familiar patterns.

Intimate and cozy, MacDonald takes us back to a time when we all saw the world with childlike wonder and awe. The show’s encouraging message of inner strength is as comforting as a warm blanket on a snowy afternoon. Watching the charming MacDonald perform is an absolute delight.

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