Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

20 Days of Theatrical Thanks 2012: Day 2

Today I’m thankful for… Kathleen Chalfont.

Kathleen Chalfant
Photo by Stephanie Warren

Remembering back a few weeks ago when I saw a pretty terrible production of a really terrible play, I can’t help but fondly remember Kathleen Chalfont‘s miraculous, shining performance. Playing a taciturn, tough-as-nails grandmother who nearly carried the most awful of secrets to her grave, she not only got away with one of the worst, most horrific monologues ever put to paper/produced on the stage, but she sold it. Hard.

You see, she played a survivor of the Armenian Genocide and in one of the final scenes of the play, she described, in blood-curdling detail, the choice she was forced to make all those years ago — a choice worse than Sophie’s, if you can believe it. Poorly written and manipulative as all get-out, this I-was-forced-to-eat-my-own-baby monologue would’ve been absolute torture in a lesser talent’s hands. But Chalfont’s ability to lessen the grotesque while emphasizing the catharsis of decades of pent-up pain were astounding. She was also the only one savvy enough to earn much-needed laughs in the midst of the super-depressing lesson-play. An absolute diamond in the roughest of the rough, I dearly hope she’s cast in something worthy of her talent soon.

I’m thankful for dedicated, ridiculously talented artists who can make even the worst dreck seem not so bad — even if only for their few glorious minutes of stage time.

For more info about 20 Days of Thanks, go here.

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