“I think about my life for a living” – a standout quote from the legendary TJ Dawe in his show ‘Medicine,’ currently playing at the Firehall Arts Centre until January 25th. A legend on the Canadian fringe circuit with numerous self-autobiographical one man shows under his belt, Dawe’s words ring hilariously true. In a sincerely humble performance, Dawe draws us a picture of a memorable and life changing experience undertaken on Vancouver island, in his critically acclaimed back-by-popular-demand one man show.
Throughout his performance Dawe describes himself as socially awkward, introverted, and frequently on the fringe of society. These qualities are present in his performance, emerging in both his physicality, demeanor and voice. These qualities are exactly what make him interesting, loveable and distinctive. The result is an honest, intimate portrait of a pivotal moment in a man’s life- a story and a circumstance we can all connect to and appreciate.
His transformative experience taking ayahuasca, a hallucinatory Amazonian plant medicine, helped him work through some long held deep rooted issues in his life. The production switches between him undergoing the treatment and reflecting on his life and the work of Dr.Gabriel Mate, A Canadian physician renowned for his research on early childhood development, among other topics. Dawe’s self described catholic upbringing, consisting of abstinence, routine and discipline, resulted in numerous emotional and sexual issues throughout his youth and into his adult years, issues he still struggles with today.
It is remarkable how honest Dawe is throughout the production, revealing extremely personal aspects of his neurosis and worst shames, exposing himself in a way you rarely see- it was not acting it was simply him. He was extremely connected to the audience, aware and reacting if someone sneezed or laughed. I felt very drawn to him as an artist and performer; he has that shy, understated quality of the kind of person you want to get to know better.
A lot of theatre-going people tend to avoid one man shows- I truly try to understand why. I feel the opposite- that I am drawn to them for the very essence of the intimacy and connection that ensues. Dawe’s performance is the epitome of this and I would love to see other solo shows of his in the future. And what other better way to leave an audience member feeling!
‘Medicine’ has been held over at the Firehall Arts Centre until January 25th, 2014- go and see why…
Disclaimer: As a theatre blogger for GVPTA, my ticket was provided free of charge to this production. That being said, opinions and statements made are my own. This is not a review, but a post meant to promote discussion within the Vancouver Theatre Community. GVPTA supports its member companies.