Best laid plans: Gracie @Finborough

It’s a whirlwind life for Gracie. The title character in this piece who is its storyteller and survivor. She was born into a polygamous religious cult, taken across the US border at the age of eight after her mother became the wife of an elder there. The eighteenth wife. As she reaches fifteen she hopes for a husband who is sweet and kind. And not too old. But those controlling her life have other ideas. 

The European premiere of Joan MacLeod’s work has been playing at the Finborough Theatre on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. While it is a work of fiction, it’s packed full of evocative detail that it feels like it could be true. Especially with Carla Langley’s engaging performance in the title role. Over the course of an 90 minute monologue she moves from childlike optimism to fear and entrapment then hope following an escape. 

It’s part adventure, part mundane life and part horror story. Particularly as it becomes clear of the life set out before her as part of “God’s plan”. Or rather, religion used as a cover for abuse and criminal activity.
The programme notes that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been suspected of trafficking women across states and borders. Sometimes for polygamous marriages against their will. While the piece doesn’t depict violence or sexual abuse, it feels like it’s there all the same. This is a simple production. There are few effects which focus on the details and the story to be told.

Part of the Canadian Playwrights at the Finborough series and Directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley, Gracie concludes on May 15

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