Jenni Wolfson’s RASH earned its place on my short-list of “Exquisite!”s when she performed it at PUSH 2008: The Fertile Delta.
The themes of identity, love, and belonging weaving through Jenni’s story as a UN human rights worker in Rwanda are established in the opening scene, when she says good-bye to her close-knit family in Scotland. Her parents cloak their anxiety in familiar habits; for her mother, it’s pouring copious amounts of tea, while her father uses his pet name for his eldest daughter,”Jennikins,” to gently question her career choice.
Nothing could prepare Jenni or her parents — or the audience — for the conflict ahead. The brutal realities of genocide, the intense high of falling in love, and the surreality of managing communications with VISA from the African bush are among the challenges Jenni negotiates with tremendous grace and humor. It’s heavy material treated with a very light hand.
Balancing dramatic contexts with subtle shifts in identity is what RASH does so well. The story is utterly absorbing and the writing so, so good. It’s been two years since she performed it here and I’m still savoring it! Work like this doesn’t come along very often, so I’m delighted that Jenni is reviving RASH this year at the NYC Fringe Festival (Brooklyn), 8/13-8/28. If you’re in the area, I urge you to make seeing it a priority.
What if your dream job could kill you?
A Scottish woman’s journey as a UN human rights worker, living and loving under fire in post-genocide Rwanda, where she experiences human nature at its worst and love at its best.
Kvetch: -1 (wish I was there!)