The Cultch in association with Ahuri Theatre & The Theatre Centre (part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival)
This is the Point by Tony Diamanti, Dan Watson, Christina Serra, Karin Randoja, & Liz MacDougall

Dates and Venue January 29 – February 2, 2019 at 8pm (additional perf. On Feb. 2 at 2pm) | The Cultch Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St.

Director Karin Randoja Set & Costume Design Sonja Rainey Lighting Design Andre du Toit Sound Designer Tim Lindsay Stage Manager Pip Bradford

Reviewer John Jane

This is the Point is an episodic, non linear peek into the lives of real-life couple Tony Diamanti and Liz MacDougall, and the real-life family of Dan Watson and Christina Serra. The piece of theatre has a thin theatrical thread that barely divides the line between reality and drama.

Diamanti and MacDougall both have cerebral palsy, though MacDougall’s impaired motor skills are almost imperceptible, while Diamanti’s physical disability is chronic. He uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and an augmentative communication device to convey his thoughts. Watson and Serra are able-bodied parents with three children, one of which, Bruno, has cerebral palsy.

This is the Point, which according to MacDougall, might be subtitled "LSD - a play about love, sex and disability," was created by the performers with help from director Karin Randoja. Earlier mountings included Christina Serra, but she is no longer motivated to join the cast onstage. That’s a pity. Watson makes a plaintive attempt to fill his partners void, but with the show being very much a personal vehicle, it would have been enlightening to witness the couple’s intimate dynamic.

For most people, they are only aware of augmentative communication through seeing Professor Stephen Hawking’s SwiftKeyTM sensor operated voice modulator. Diamanti’s preferred method of communication is definitively lo-tech. He uses an alphanumeric board with the ‘QWERTY’ layout and a head-pointer that spells out words by picking characters.

The play genuinely attempts (and for the most part succeeds) in exploding the myths and clearing misconceptions about being disabled. Disabled people have hopes and dreams that are similar to the rest of us: happy relationships, fulfilling careers and being treated fairly by the population at large. In a brutal sequence that illustrates the downside of disability, Watson and Diamanti play out a fictional scene that depicts Diamanti on the receiving end of both verbal and physical abuse by his care-giver. Not everything hits the mark so well. One particular scene where Diamanti gets ‘pity sex’ from Watson dressed in drag I found to be disturbing.

The play ends on a poignant note. Diamanti is alone on stage having a one way conversation with the audience who are following his tapping out on the alphanumeric board and reading aloud his anecdote about his daughter (now 40) and his memory of watching The Jungle Book.

I’m not sure that it counts as a recommendation, but everyone should see it. You certainly won’t leave the theatre feeling sorry for yourself.

© 2019 John Jane