by Judy Reid
Odd Job Ninja
60 min / Storytelling, Comedy, Drama / Mature
From tales of working in a Newfoundland kitchen to four years in Kandahar, this show is an interactive confession that elicits fits of laughter, moments of silence, and a few tears.
It’s not easy to summarize four years in Afghanistan, but Judy Reid’s one-woman show seamlessly pivots from her time in a conflict zone to that of other battlefields including a kitchen in Dildo, coping with the death of her favourite audio book narrator—and the dating scene in a few Canadian cities, too.
While live theatre, at times, risks appearing overly rehearsed and refined, this show is raw with emotion as Judy recounts a variety of memories through the summation of ten lessons learned—taking the audience as far back as her 15-year-old self when she looked down at Ottawa from an airplane, thinking: “This is where the rich people live.”
Her reasons to justify such an observation induce laughter from the audience and offer a dramatic juxtaposition to other recollections, striking a delicate balance between humoristic and somber tales while Judy stands on a small, slightly elevated platform painted flat black in the NAC’s new Rossy Pavilion. Large windows insulated the spacious room from heavy drops of rain outside and offer a stunning view of Canada’s National War Memorial in the distance. There is no better stage for her show as Judy takes us beyond her youthful perspectives of income disparity in Canada to the conflict in Afghanistan—where she lived on Kandahar Airfield (KAF) with military personnel from around the world and returned to Canada later realizing she had an injury: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As an exquisite storyteller, she steers the conversation through multiple topics, places, and time periods—gently guiding the audience with each leap. What distinguishes the performance are a few key ingredients that make it not-to-miss: new to Fringe, Judy relies on the audience to guide her through ten life lessons that form the framework of her production.
The complexities of her stories culminate with her recollection of juggling rocks (literally) in Kandahar and how genuine efforts to entertain others can unexpectedly evoke a lingering sense of helplessness. There is no fourth wall and the monologue feels more like an invigorating conversation, akin to a stranger who becomes your unexpected companion on a short flight and whom shines an honest light on life.
I couldn’t help but look behind me, a few times, to where Judy’s mother was seated. Wearing a bright red top, she listened to her daughter discuss PTSD and sexual experiences—including a secret sex club in Ottawa.
“Did you know all of these things about your daughter?” I asked her Mom once the show concluded.
“Ohhhhh no. No, no, no, no, no,” she said with a brazen smile. “I know everything now. It was awesome,” she laughs.
“She’s braver than me.”
Half of profits raised from this show are donated to Ottawa’s Improv Embassy to support people dealing with PTSD and anxiety.
How to Get Over a Guy in 723 Days by Judy Reid is playing at the National Arts Centre Rossy Pavilion until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.