TJ Dawe is something special. And we need more of his kind of performer on the Vancouver stage.
I heard about break-out hit Medicine long before its return to Firehall Arts Centre. A past Fringe Festival darling, Medicine isn’t your typical one-man show. And that’s exactly why TJ Dawe is at once so special and so crucial to Canadian theatre.
In Medicine, Dawe shares his experience joining a retreat led by famed addictions physician Dr. Gabor Maté, where participants ingest the Amazonian psychotropic plant medicine ayahuasca to confront their demons and heal stress and addiction. Dawe’s monologue takes audiences on a funny, and at times dark, introspective journey into the playwright’s search for what lies behind his impulses and motivations.
I’s no real surprise why Medicine resonates so strongly with critics and audiences alike. The subject matter may seem unapproachable and a little bizarre at first. I encourage you to look past the description and take a brave new step into TJ’s world. I certainly couldn’t relate to the psychotropic part of the journey, but there’s so much more to TJ’s story. Common threads of family, of psychology, and of the life of a Fringe artist dominate this production; a naked and frank conversation about TJ’s life.
A Performer Who Doesn’t Act
When I saw TJ’s depiction of alienation, I was reminded of someone I knew very well. We all know someone like that, a person whose social awkwardness dominates over everything else. TJ has little natural charisma. He doesn’t wink to let you in on a private joke. Instead, TJ talks about his tendency to be inside his head, particularly when it comes to group settings and eye contact.
Medicine works so well because TJ doesn’t need to act. He doesn’t need to play an exaggerated version of himself. All he needs to do is to give us a fascinating doorway into how his mind works.
The Final Word
To the deep thinkers of the world. To the quiet ones in the corner who tend to over-analyze everything. Who run seemingly insignificant events over and over again in their minds, perhaps warping it from the original occurrence.
To TJ, who taught me in his quiet and assuming way, how alike we really are.
Medicine plays at Firehall Arts Centre until January 25, 2014. Advanced tickets here.