Thursday, 6 May 2004

I'm Me…and I'm OK! by Sarah Mainwaring, May 6, 2004

I'm Me… and I'm OK!  
by Sarah Mainwaring and Lloyd Jones.
Where and When: La Mama) 6 to 23 May, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

"My Inner Anger," reads the slogan in Sarah Mainwaring's painting.

On the canvas, a large ghostly figure looms menacingly over shattered fragments of blood red. This was  Sarah's VCE painting.

It captures the essence of her frustration and rage at being the victim of a brain injury acquired in a car accident when she was six.

She performs her monologue, I'm Me… and I'm OK, pacing like a caged tiger in front of the painting.

The phantom, anger, is ever present on the backdrop behind her.

The content of the play, directed by Lloyd Jones, is snatches of Sarah's life as she contended with her injury, therapy, her parents' grief and wanting to be "normal".

She writes in poetic form so it is no surprise that Sarah published four anthologies of poetry.  She also studies Performance Studies at V.U.T.

Sarah struggles to speak the words and to control her body's movements.

Her tale may be slow and may lack some of the usual theatrical conventions, but it is compelling and moving.

We hear her agonise over guilt and blame. She battles with notions that her parents' separation was her fault.

She says of her past, "I was humiliated frustrated, burning inside with anger."

Now, years later, what she sees is a courageous, talented and much loved young woman. She shows us someone who has overcome terrible adversity.

She waxes lyrical over her love of her horse on which she won equestrian events.

She tells of the darkness of her survival and describes her therapists as 'helpers and hurters'.

She mourns the loss of her childhood to years of hospitalisation and painful treatments.

She rages at the unfriendliness of hospitals and at being disadvantaged in her education, being pulled from classes for treatments.

This is a long show for one actor but an assistant supports Sarah on stage each night.

A woman sits at a table flipping through a women's magazine - a thinly disguised script - and is prompted when she loses her lines.

This is not conventional theatre. The story could be told in many ways. Sarah is determined to be heard and this is her way of telling her story.

LOOK FOR: Sarah's marvellously evocative painting

By Kate Herbert

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