Double U’s I Can See Clearly Now is an insightful and amusing look into the often-troubled psyche of the pre-tween girl. In its current incarnation there’s room for development into a longer show that deals with its more fantastical elements in more detail, but it’s already off to a great start.
Stephanie is almost nine years old, and in her own words is a “myopic underachieving fat kid.” Her teacher told her she needs to lose weight; her best friend’s moving away; her parents are going to have another baby; and to top it all off she just started wearing glasses. Stephanie has a secret that helps her get through all this, though: she’s not really Stephanie, she’s a scout from the planet Attray sent to take a human body and complete her reconnaissance mission on Earth life. As the pressures in her Earth life become too much to bear, Stephanie considers aborting her mission and returning to Attray.
The make-believe sci-fi element of the show is a fun and creative analog for the desire to run away from circumstances beyond their control that most young people experience at least once. Stephanie Lalor’s slightly exaggerated performance style is a perfect fit for the high-strung headspace of her character; though her character’s struggles might be typical for her age group, at that age these can feel like the end of the world. Finding out that you have to adjust to life changes you didn’t ask for is a hard lesson to learn and an important part of growing up, and Lalor communicates this sensitive aspect of maturation with honesty. Stephanie (the character, not the performer) is as articulate as an adult but her perspective is still very much that of one who is on her way to not being a child anymore, and this ability to bridge the communication gap between children and adults is what, at the core, makes this show so promising.
This show is pretty short (only 30 minutes) and there’s definitely room to expand. We never learn how Stephanie “found out” that she’s an alien scout from Attray, and the descriptions of Attray are somewhat vague, except for Stephanie’s confident assertion that on Attray physical bodies work differently than on Earth and that she wouldn’t be considered fat there. This indirect psychological look into Stephanie’s anxieties is part of the beauty of the sci-fi narrative, and the more we hear about Attray, the more we learn about Stephanie. The helmet that Stephanie wears to “communicate” with her home plant is decked out with household junk and other items to give it a more “spacey” look, and it would be a joy to hear Stephanie’s account of how she came into possession of a device she clearly built herself (she holds the egg beaters from an electric mixer in her hands to keep her intergalactic transmissions open, and I’m dying to know what Stephanie’s mom had to say about those being appropriated). Within the half-hour running time the amount of typical childhood grievances seems a bit packed together, but if spaced out over a longer running time this wouldn’t be an issue at all.
I Can See Clearly Now is an strong first incarnation of a work that strikes a chord with the insecurities everyone feels as they become more aware of the world they live in. In the future I can see this being an excellent piece to tour around schools, since Lalor so clearly gets it.
I Can See Clearly Now
A Double U production
Created and Performed by Stephanie Lalor
Creative Consultant: Kristina Watt
Stage Managed by Dave Dawson
Sound Design by Sam McCarthy
Thursday, June 15 7:30pm
Saturday, June 17 7:00pm