The Waltonsteins 

Written & performed by Frannie Sheridan
Directed by Michelle Porter; Original Music by Laurie Lesk

At the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island, Vancouver

February 25 to March 7, 1999

by Robin Wong

In brief, this is a story about Frannie Sheridan and her rather large family. It is about living as a Jew after the holocaust and about the fear of another holocaust. It is a one -woman play where she portrays the entire family in unique and interesting situations. I was moved by the depth of the storyline and by the tremendous acting ability of Frannie.

Frannie is a dynamite actress. She moves about the stage with passion and her voice is very fresh and entertaining. As an actor myself with many years of theatre experience, I know how difficult it is to keep the audience into it. She is a wonderful dancer and is very creative in her use of mime, doing this wonderfully with her exuberance and energy, as she told her story.

This play is approximately 1-hour and 40 minutes long which I believe is too long for one person to hold the audience's attention. Even with the amazing acting ability of this wonderful actor and comedian, I found myself bored at times and slipping into a most uncomfortable doze.

I did notice that there were quite a few people missing for act two. Four people in my row were missing and I'm positively sure I didn't smell that bad!! 1 hour and 40 minutes in the dark is too long!

I thoroughly enjoyed Frannie's portrayal of her family around the dinner table where she would switch from character to character with her own unique and exciting voice. It was all good, from her mother's caring attitude for Frannie to her father's shouting to her older brothers, "We have no love in this family."

The part I was not particularly thrilled with was when she expressed her feelings to the audience like we were her therapists. I think it went on too long and I was happy when she switched back into the other characters.

Anybody who has experienced racism or discrimination in their lives will have an appreciation for the relevance of this kind of play. It most definitely portrays real life issues for everybody, particularly the Jewish people in the audience. I, in fact, found myself thinking back to my own past as a little Chinese boy growing up in a hugely dominated white population.

All in all, the play was all right, with a lot of important issues in this story which were told passionately and confidently, but , again, too long for one person to maintain the interest of the audience.