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I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me: Where’s the centre?

by | Jan 10, 2022 | Review | 0 comments

publicity photo for I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me

Emily M Cheung, KhattieQ, Anjalica Solomon, and Lili Robinson. (Photo by Kimberly Ho)

I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made me is full of pleasing textures but, unfortunately, little else.

Catherine Hernandez wrote the script that director Fay Nass has adapted for the frank theatre into a 53-minute audio play with music. It’s about a woman who leaves an abusive lesbian relationship, taking her child with her. The deliberately light tone celebrates growth and survival.

For me, the star of this production is the music, which was composed and directed by Taymaz Saba. It’s circus-y, cabaret-like, with a rolling narrative tone in some sections that reminds me of The Decembrists. The arrangements are ornamented with deeply stacked but sparkling harmonies — ably carried off by the four-person cast: Lili Robinson, Anjalica Solomon, khattieQ, and Emily M Cheung.

There’s some delightful imagery in the text. When the protagonist finds God after leaving her partner and she’s belting out hymns in church, she says, ““I sang spirit in between my teeth, in between my eyelashes.” And the text delivers a few details from the larger field of trauma. When they’re together, the partner complains about the hero’s wardrobe, accusing her of wanting to fuck other people. And, in one of the most memorable images, the protagonist remembers clearing egg yolk off her face after her mother smashed it into her plate of breakfast.

But the narrative itself is evoked so sparingly that it barely exists. Talking about her son, the hero refers to “the horror of the weight of his father.” And that’s it for that thread. Elsewhere, she says, “The hero doesn’t always escape. My father never did.” Okay, but where’s the story, where are the relationships that would give that assertion resonance? The protagonist’s joy, when it comes, is handled even more perfunctorily, and the celebration of the healing that precedes it is generic. The text’s directives include, “Call bullshit. Take care of yourself. Smudge. Shower.”

I appreciate the sincerity of this production. The artists are committed to it. They’re honouring it. But it’s so darn allusive that there’s not very much to it.

I CANNOT LIE TO THE STARS THAT MADE ME by Catherine Hernandez. Directed by Fay Nass. Musical direction and composition by Taymaz Saba. Produced by the frank theatre company. Available free online until January 16.

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