Yarn: First there was Wool, now Yarn…looking forward to Sweater!

Written by Susannah Joyce
Venue 2: The Arts Project
Troupe Name: Acky-Made
Troupe Origin: Toronto ON
Playwright: Alex Eddington
Featuring: Alex Eddington
Warnings: Coarse language
Audience: Recommended 14+
Storytelling and music.
Show Length: 60min
Performances: Continuing…Tues., June 11- 9:00 p.m., Thurs., June 13 - 5:30 p.m., Sat., June 15 - 8:00 p.m.

A major topic of discussion and reflection in Alex Eddington’s one man show, Yarn, is his own “inner monologue” (at times depicted cleverly through a lamb hand puppet named Buttercup). His rendition of these racing thoughts, describing a lonely summer on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, when he was “22 and a half”, spurred my own interior conversation about the play.

Are the hectic pace and sometimes disjointed narrative intentional to emphasize the theme of temporarily losing one’s mind? Is it helpful simply to relax into the stream of consciousness and experience the chaos with him? Does the script express raw emotion or is it, as a fellow attendee and his partner perceived, an exercise in self-indulgence?

I don’t think it is the latter. Any topic, no matter how personal, is relatable, if shared effectively. I wish I had seen Eddington’s two earlier creative forays into the world of sheep, Wool, performed at Fringe Festivals in 1996 and Fuzzy Logic, a 2011 composition for narrator and six musicians, also based on his journals from the time on Mull. I would like to compare those treatments to the one he gives in Yarn, because the somewhat frenetic and ironic tone in this most recent piece left me without the depth of connection to his experiences I so wanted to have.
Eddington’s admiration of the UK musical group, Mr. Mc Falls Chamber, his exploration of standing stones, cause, effect  and superstition, all seemed to whirl by like a ten-city European tour in twelve days...tantalizing but not accessible in enough detail. I would have preferred a slightly less crowded itinerary. Encounters with friends old and new do not seem to help his feelings of isolation, but the reasons for such loneliness remain somewhat of a mystery.
Balls of yarn and musical instruments are effective as set and props and his use of humour worked well with the audience: “Lack of ram became rack of lamb.” Snippets of songs and song parodies are peppered throughout, but given Alex’s reputation as a composer and musician I would have welcomed the chance to experience a bit more of this aspect of his talent.
The storytelling within the storytelling offers some illumination about what was learned during his stay on the island and other interesting insights are shared before the play’s end. The helpful publicity information notes that, “Yarn is a more refined show than Wool. Perhaps in another seven years there will be one called Sweater.”
Rather than self-indulgence I think this is a worthy attempt to keep unraveling and understanding what is clearly a time of great importance in Eddington’s life. I believe there is still a wealth of content to be further explored and shared and that audiences will be willing companions on future journeys.
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Susannah Joyce has published poetry and articles in various Canadian journals and has written a number of books on community involvement and people who have a disability. Recently she was a contributor to Jack Layton: Art in Action, Quattro Books. Theatre and film are ongoing passions and she is completing work on a two woman show based on characters from the novels of L.M Montgomery.

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