Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: A Beautiful Show By A Beautiful Woman

by Kaila M. Stokes

Inheritance is a one-woman show that portrays the soul of a beauty whose previous generations haunt her own present. Jessica Wanamaker, writer/director/actress of Inheritance, gave a stunning portrayal of this woman. It felt so honest and personal that one can only assume it is about her own life. From the moment Jessica stepped on stage, she transformed into every character she was portraying. Generations were connected through every wrong decision in each of their lives. How much pain can one person take? If you’re a woman….a lot.
Jessica begins with her great great grandmother, an Irish lady with a nasty husband who was even nastier to his own daughter (Jessica’s great grandmother). This is the beginning of a cycle for the woman in Jessica’s family. What follows abusive husbands and boyfriends is rape, abortions and death. At first Jessica wanted to break the cycle, forget her past and forge ahead! But without the past, one couldn’t have a present and certainly could not forge ahead to the future. Instead, she sits in her past for a while, ruminates in its smells, tastes and desires. She then poses these questions to the audience; what makes us female, why does history repeat itself, what are the gender norms? All of these questions are very prevalent in society today, references to current events were made throughout which gave her message a sense of urgency as well. As a woman, these questions are hard to ignore since everyday our choices mean more than a man’s because woman have consequences that men could not fathom.
photo by Dixie Sheridan
Jessica is each generation and acts out each event, including a paralyzing representation of rape. The message is clear from beginning to end and for that alone, Inheritance should be applauded! Throughout the piece as she became different people, Jessica stripped a layer of clothing off. This was such a bold and defining choice. There was no set, no visual metaphor, so she used her body as the physical metaphor. The stripping off of cloths was the flaking of layers of generations and of choices her previous ancestors made. Jessica was making a choice to go through these layers, not around, and take them off only after she understood that person fully. It was beautiful.
Inheritance was so simple, so naked and exposed that the audience felt like they knew this actress on stage. It was as if Jessica and all in the audience had been best friends for years, usually you are before someone shares those intimate moments in their life. But without being friends, Jessica bared her soul onstage. The ending should not be given away, but let’s just say, the timing of that news was perfect. Inheritance is highly recommended and if you can, see it with someone you love. What do you do when the past haunts you? You live!