From Jan. 16-26, “Angie Aquavitae Is Aggravated and She Is Going to Tell You About It,” written and performed by A. Aquavitae, took the stage in Pless Hall. Produced by Gallatin Associate Professor Michael Dinwiddie and Go Tell It! Productions, the show was a one-woman drama therapy, a type of theatre designed to help individuals set goals or achieve catharsis. Grappling with the idea of loss, Angie Aquavitae, an Italian woman in her 70s, illustrated the great mourning that comes with change. While there was very little plot, the story devastatingly depicted how her nostalgic psyche led to her own misery.
The theater was a small black box with about fifty seats, but undoubtedly provided an intimate feel. Each table and chair appeared realistic due to authentic details like magazine clippings, a coffee machine and a corded phone peppered on them. Once the lights came up, Angie acted like the audience members were her houseguests for the afternoon. She brewed coffee onstage and even offered Italian cookies. While many thought this proposition was a joke, the house lights rose and women brought out vanilla wafers that resembled Voortman cookies on silver trays. As the audience munched on their snacks, Angie continued her furious rants, taught some Italian phrases and even inspired individuals to sing “Sweet Caroline” with her. When an audience member fell asleep in the front row, Angie made sure to theatrically terminate his early evening nap. No matter what the performer did on the stage, she made sure everyone felt as if they were a part of her world.
A nostalgic Angie spent each day in her little kitchen hoping to reminisce with anyone that would listen to her. She despised the idea of fancy Starbucks orders and gender neutral bathrooms because those were dissimilar to the glorious past she wished she could relive. Her passionate detestation for modernity ultimately led to her isolation. She never left her little world and was overjoyed when anyone, like the audience, could provide her company. While not included in the show, she assumably practiced this solitude until she died because she preferred to live in her own sentimental world than be an active member in an inferior society.
Angie’s performance made the entire experience exceptional. The performer made the audience believe there were multiple performers in the one-woman show due to her incredible ability to change her voice, costumes, personality and even gestures. After a scene, Angie sat in a chair and had her headpiece, shirt and props removed and replaced before she continued with a different narrative. One may argue that such a process is tedious and time consuming. However, this decision dramatically illustrated the ubiquitous process behind exploring repressed emotions. These moments were magical and instigated anticipation for the next transformation. From her comedic frustrations to heartbreaking moments of devastation, Angie proved that one person can truly do it all and that a one-woman show can be just as spectacular as any other kind of production.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, print edition. Email Sasha Cohen at [email protected]