By Jackson Riley
There's something wrong with our society. We're told exactly who and what to find desirable, and those of us who are unable to meet the required beauty standards are cast aside to wallow in our own self-hatred and sadness. Danielle Pinnock's world premiere Body/Courage confronts these 'ideals' with an honesty and relatability that is so hard to find in an uplifting piece such as this. Pinnock combines over 300 interviews with her own personal story to create something truly warm, funny, touching, and forgiving.
The production, directed by Megan Carney, isn't perfect. The direction is far too frantic at the start - Pinnock bounces around the small Rivendell stage so quickly it's hard to pay attention to some of what she has to say. Additionally, the sound design is very overbearing. At times, the cues added much-needed atmosphere to Pinnock's performance, but several moments were completely overshadowed by a suddenly loud track. The playwright and star's personal story also fails to deliver the same clear impact as many of the stories she tells around it. However, these imperfections are distracting at worst and charming at best, and can be forgiven in exchange for the insane likability that Pinnock has to offer.
The production is produced by Rivendell in association with Waltzing Mechanics, though Pinnock has been developing the piece independently for upwards of five years. The actor moves quickly between characters such as a sassy middle schooler, a professional escort, the one-and-only "Tan Mom," a transgender woman, and more. Perhaps Pinnock will continue developing the piece to include personal reactions to some of these stories instead of rushing so quickly to the next - but the play, as it is, will leave you feeling good. Danielle Pinnock leaves you inspired, relaxed, and comforted, and Body/Courage is a hybrid of therapy and a theatrical hug.
Body/Courage runs at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble through February. Tickets and more: www.rivendelltheatre.org