The Things We Tell Ourselves by Cristina Catalina. Pictures: Andrew Moore

Are We Where We Are?

Shop Front Theatre, Coventry


The penultimate pair of intriguing monologues from Theatre Absolute at Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre presented a short but memorable programme from two women writers who also performed their pieces using the main theme from David Henry Moreau’s writings.

The first, The Things We Tell Ourselves by Cristine Catalina, was an absorbing and poetic exploration of the real quote “We are not where we are but in a false position” and, as a writing process, used each of the main words as the basis for her thoughtful piece. It created a vision of her life in Romania before the 1989 changes and now with her two-year-old son and his constant demands of “What’s that, Mama?” that drive her to view her life and her past, her surroundings and her current contentment in a new light.

What I really liked was the contrast between her 14-year-old self in its personal hell of her parent’s divorce and the political reality of the joy of freedom that allows her to change country and start afresh not once but twice. I take my metaphorical hat off to her in salute.


Don't Cry for Me by Stephanie Riding.

Next, Don’t Cry for Me by Stephanie Ridings was beautiful, moving and, somehow, really important. It was also apposite for World Mental Health Day as it concerned her brother who, as an archaeologist, suddenly needed the full-time care of the family.

She describes in comical but moving terms how her parents, unsupported by professionals, had to find out what was happening, cope and accommodate that their clever, little boy had become ‘stuck’.

Her father she describes as silent until he simply flipped himself. Her mother became stressed and couldn’t cope. A game of family ‘musical chairs’ ensued where the ‘baby’, her, of the family became parent to the rest. There are no happy outcomes, no magical solutions but a gradual accommodation of a new reality to a needy member of the family who has spent his whole life pretending and is no longer able.

I loved this piece. Her energy in telling a sad story of unfulfilled promise, lack of support for vulnerable people and a man in crisis was brilliant in so many ways. She started with a stand-up sing-along of Evita’s famous song and finished by outlining how those words, “It won’t be easy…” and so on summed up for her their new family dynamic.

Jane Howard


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