Published Oct 01, 2004It's difficult to adapt a play for film and maintain the intimacy of theatre. Add to that the challenge of taking a one-woman show and producing a film that is more than a talking head drama (no slight to Spalding Gray, who was in class by himself). Many have tried and many have failed. Despite the possible hurdles a multiple character story told with a lone actress wearing masks I, Claudia is evocative, warm and engaging.
Kirsten Thomson (who wrote the original play and adapted it with director Chris Abraham) is to be blunt fucking brilliant. Her voice, laugh and mannerisms are unique for each character, whether she's 12-year-old Claudia or her elderly grandfather. The audience is immediately drawn in, the camera keeping us close with tight shots; it's certainly not a slick production but they use edits creatively quick cuts that reveal the various perspectives of the characters rather than merely being pleasing to the eye.
The story centres on Claudia as she comes to term with her parents' divorce, her father's remarriage, the approaching science fair and turning 13. She faces her world with a humour and anger that is just learning to express itself. A lot of her time is spent observing and trying to understand changes that she has no control over. Thomson portrays all her characters sympathetically. Even Leslie, the new wife, is given her due.
We might be looking at an actress in a mask and wig taking on the role of a pre-teen or middle-aged "other woman" but the portrayals and script are honest and true. Perhaps Claudia said it best, "Sometimes life is so true." (Mongrel Media)