Vancouver Fringe 2019: Destiny, USA

Don’t let the humility of Destiny, USA fool you: this is what sophistication looks like.

Because it’s humble and autobiographical, some people might ignore Destiny, USA, but that would be a huge mistake: it’s one of the most skilful and moving shows I’ve ever seen at the Fringe.

Laura Anne Harris is the sole live performer in this production of her script. In her story, it’s 2016 and she has followed her husband Chris to Syracuse, New York, where he is pursuing a PhD. Astonishingly, Donald Trump has just been elected President of the United States.

Harris weaves together three threads: her relationship with Chris, her mom’s illness and death back in Canada, and her job as a relay operator for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Harris makes simple and effective use of technology: in some starkly poetic passages, for instance, her lyrics appear on a screen — sometimes with blank spaces that get filled in as she speaks, sometimes with significant words that disappear or repeat.

Her work as a relay operator gave her extraordinary access to her clients’ lives, which she has fictionalized here to protect their anonymity. In one of the most moving passages, a deaf woman of colour engages Harris to make a call to a suicide hotline. There’s a lot to this: race, disability, and the cruelty of capitalism — as well as the resilience of the caller and kindness of the call-centre worker. Tamyka Bullen, who plays the suicidal woman on video, is extraordinary. She takes her time. It feels like documentary.

Ultimately, it’s the compassion of Destiny, USA that makes it so shattering. We’re all mortal. In times like these, small gestures of kindness redefine the world.

In The Nest on September 7 (6:45 p.m.), 9 (8:45 p.m.), 10 (7:45 P.M.), 12 (5:00 p.m.), 14 (1:15 p.m.), and 15 (8:45 p.m.) Tickets

This review is based on a performance at the Victoria Fringe.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!