‘Francis’ is somebody to love

Review by John K. Adams

Francis, Somebody to Love, written and performed by Dana Denham Marsh and directed by Mick Thyer, is going to New York. If you didn’t see it, it will return.

We are not individuals so much as collections of relationships. This one-woman show affectionately opens up the beating heart of one mother/daughter relationship. The sets are as intimate as a young girl’s journal.

Using the soundtrack of her life to transition between vignettes, Francis creates a portrait of innocence and the struggle to understand the mystery of a parent gone away, yet ever present. Francis asks the audience to help her to let go of her mother, so she can live her life. But Francis also acknowledges that her mother will always ride shotgun in her heart.

As a child, her earthy mother was the center of Francis’ universe. But just as Francis’ own identity is blossoming, she must find understanding of her mother’s withdrawal into affairs and pills. Despite her barely present father, Francis blames herself for her mother’s absence.

The conflict between who she is and who her mother wants her to be is revealed with poignant intimacy. Francis’ inner Freddy Mercury wrestles with her mother’s Joni Mitchell.

How the team of Marsh and Thyer accomplish this task so deftly, in a one woman show, is the magic of live theater. Marsh so disappears into her role, that when the performance ends, the lights reveal not a hockey-playing tomboy but a mature performer in command of her craft.

“Francis, Somebody to Love” played at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, 5636 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. Call (323) 463-7378 or visit www.sfstheatre.com.

This review originally appeared in the Tolucan Times on June 12th, 2015.

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