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Review: No Stranger Than Home

By Rodger Pille · May 31st, 2009 · Fringe
On a trip to El Salvador in 2004, Katherine Glover met a wise old man who served as her unofficial tour guide and historian. He’d tell tales of the region and of the world he knew. All were colorful but instructive in nature. It was clear he could spin a yarn as a way to pass the time but also to help Glover (and anyone listening) later in the their lives and in the travels.

“I pass along the stories,” he told her one day. “If you know what to do with them, let me know.” She did.

Her world travels and experiences are chronicled in this one-woman Fringe show playing at the Art Academy. The piece is personal, and what it might lack in theatricality it makes up for with immediacy. There’s some inter-scene music and one or two lighting cues. Otherwise, it’s all just Glover, front and center, talking about the places she’s seen, the people’s she’s met and the things she’s learned.

No Stranger is broken into 10 scenes, which Glover connotes with a humble flip chart on stage, the kind she might have used when teaching English in Nicaragua.

Per the scene titles, she covers culture shock, witch doctors, the difficulty in creating family trees outside Western culture and the distinct lack of lesbians in other parts of the world.

Most all Glover’s tales are interesting, but admittedly there are scenes that could be trimmed and still make their point. According to promotional materials, she didn’t set out to write plays. Rather, she enjoyed compiling her writing and realized there was a Fringe show in them.

Some stories work better as theater than others. The best ones are those in which Glover learns a lesson that she — or any of us — couldn’t have learned here in the comfort of these fairytale-land United States, where everyone is a movie star and where foreigners are sold for organ harvesting. At least that’s the impression the rest of the world has of us, according to Glover.

There’s just not a lot of opportunity to see one-person shows over the course of our local theatrical season, save for the Fringe. So while it’s initially easy to walk away and wish for something more dramatically interesting, more produced, there is something about the stripped down, uber-low budget presentation that hits home.

In many ways, anything more produced would have robbed No Stranger of its best attribute: humility. Glover learned much about what it means to be a citizen of the world on her travels. And we, through her personal, intimate tales and through the smallness of the show, might glean a small bit of humility for having heard them.

Performed at Art Academy of Cincinnati through June 6. See performance dates and preview here.



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