“Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.”
Dorothy Parker was a professional wit. She was a poet, satirist, playwright and (first female) theatre critic. She was invited to parties in hopes she’d utter one of her dark-tinted turns of phrase (“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”) Dorothy Parker was also a professional suicidalist. Her numerous attempts at the afterlife were well-documented and lampooned by polite society, from which Parker kept a comfortable distance.
In Abra-Cadaver, by production company The Deep End, we’re introduced to Parker, defier of death, at age 100. She doesn’t understand why she can’t just kick the bucket once and for all, so this time she’s recruited an audience to help her.
The one-woman show (supported behind the scenes by more than one person, she points out) weaves stories from Parker’s life with dialogue from her novels and books of poetry (“I don’t care what is written about me, so long as it isn’t true.”)
The show is a strange introduction to Parker — it never quite explains why she hates life so, except that she finds living to be “so common, so pedestrian.”
The goofy audience interaction sometimes overshadowed the more sensitive moments where the cynical writer reflects on love and life (Parker did, after all, survive into her 70s and died of natural causes… some suppose the failed suicide attempts were just an extension of her dark wit.)
Overall, though, the script was playful and bold and packed with one-liners. Whether she really yearned for death, Parker did have one post-humous wish: that upon her tombstone be set the words; “Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”
Top photo: Jenna Turk as Dorothy Parker. By director Maya Rabinovitch
Bottom photo: Dorothy Parker memorial outside Tarragon Theatre. By Dana Lacey
Wed, July 6 8:45 PM 202
Sun, July 10 6:30 PM 223
Mon, July 11 1:00 PM 226
Tue, July 12 3:30 PM 233
Wed, July 13 11:00 PM 244
Fri, July 15 Noon 252
Sat, July 16 8:45 PM 264
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows