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D'bi Young "From Maxfield To Malvern"

Five minutes into D'bi Young's solo performance at Theatre Passe Muraille I'm lost. I can't understand what she's saying. Even still, "From Maxfield to Malvern", her collection of theatrical and poetical works is extremely powerful. At times during the show she seems to look right into the eyes of individual audience members - it's pretty intense if it happens to you. Young's accent ranges from subtle to almost impenetrable patois throughout the night, reflecting different times and places in her life. After her show, during the Q&A, Young talks about the vibe of a performance, saying that vibes are the most important part of the show. Language is just one tool to that end. That said, I started to pick up most of the language after those first five minutes had passed.

"Out of the frying pan and into the freezer" is how Young describes coming to Canada. Her show deals heavily in her interaction with and absorption of a foreign culture. In one piece, Young plays her own mother accusing her of being a lesbian for kissing a girl in an upcoming performance. Hilarious. Trying to deflect her daughter's modern critique of her traditional prejudices, the mother concedes that she doesn't really have a problem with two girls making out, but that two dudes is a little harder to take. While this piece is funny, a lot of the work is extremely serious and heart-wrenching. In another mom piece, we see Young as a concerned daughter, asking her overworked mother when was the last time she got a decent sleep. Young also approaches single motherhood from her own perspective - she has a child of her own. When she refers to the "Harristocracy" and a lack of after school programs, I can almost hear my own mom, who really hated Harris.

Universality is a big theme in the question and answer session that follows the performance. Asked if her attempts at inclusion ever lead to her censoring the voice of a character, Young says no and professes to trust her audience. She relies on the vibe (mentioned above) and the universality of human emotions to draw in outsiders. She regards the need for a larger dialogue as crucial "I can't have a conversation about feminism with just women", she says as an example.

D'bi Young's show "From Maxfield to Malvern" plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille again today at 2pm and again at 7pm.

*Illustration of D'bi Young courtesy of Fovea


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