Fringe 2019 – The Archive of Educated Hearts – 4k – The Manse Holden Street Theatres

Casey Jay Andrews, writer and performer, welcomes us warmly into a room full of memories and proceeds to share the stories of four women affected by breast cancer. She deals with this difficult topic with warmth, empathy, and quiet humour.
Sharing the stories of Karen, Dot, Ariole and Emma she moves seamlessly between anecdote, recordings of interviews that she has made, projected images, and recordings of ‘Have you an educated heart?’ (a work by US poet Gelett Burgess). Through the use of beautifully articulate language she talks to our inarticulate hearts.
Few of us have been untouched by the dark shadow of cancer via friends, family, community. It is easy to agree with Casey’s description of lives being bisected by a diagnosis, a fissure appearing between the time before, and the time after. Both for the individual and for those around them.
The recordings of conversations with her grandmother, who has four daughters with a genetic form of breast cancer, are particularly charming. Employed by Boots Chemists for many decades she tells us that the most important thing is to listen to people, to their stories.
Casey has created this work in part as a tribute to her drama teacher who died recently from breast cancer. It is obviously a very emotional experience for her but she carries it off with calmness and great compassion. Most audience members were moved to tears at times, for some it may have been a cathartic experience.
Never maudlin nor dour, this is a skilful performance which manages to be quite uplifting.
Holden Street Theatres until March 16th.

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