Friday, February 23, 2018

Victoria Fringe Fest 2017 review: My Stroke of Luck personal, convincing

September 5, 2017 by Elias Orrego, contributing writer

Diane Barnes’ My Stroke of Luck is a beautiful and entertaining one-woman production depicting Barnes’ real-life experience of having a stroke while being a single mother and a doctor. Barnes, who is obviously well trained in acting and has a natural ability for displaying human emotion, had the audience’s attention from start to finish. The show is so captivating and serious that I could tell the audience held back laughter for a good portion of it, unsure if it was appropriate to laugh. I don’t think this is a bad thing, however, especially considering the demographic of the audience.

My Stroke of Luck brought tears and laughter to audience members (photo provided).

I was one of a very small number of audience members who appeared to be under 65; someone in the audience had been through a stroke, and friends or family members of people who had had strokes were in the audience as well. My Stroke of Luck is by no means a comedy but the splashes of humour throughout were brilliantly worded and delivered and were well received, once the audience realized it was okay to laugh.

Human frailty and feelings of inadequacy are masterfully presented in the show through expression, intonation, and physical acting; Barnes displays an impressive variety of voices and personalities (portrayed through body language).

This is definitively a play, rather than just a dramatic telling; a strong use of lighting, props, music, and pre-recorded phrases helps to develop the play-like environment. Barnes captures the entire experience of her life struggle as she masterfully performs both the insincere and the concerned roles of others involved in her recovery. She takes her time in the show, pausing and giving expressions to add meaning and depth to her performance. There are a couple of times near the beginning where I thought she may have forgot or was stumbling over her words, but her pausing for effect and reflection quickly became apparent.

Her acting was very personal and convincing—she even cried at times. At one point she fell to the ground and was overcome with despair, unable to get up; her act of limited muscle control was flawless and convincing. Audience members were also moved to tears at the authenticity of the struggle depicted.

A combination of skill, heart, charm, and agility creates an enjoyable and a touching performance in My Stroke of Luck.

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