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WINNING THE EMPATHY VOTE

Print Version
Photo by Alice Tappenden
Photo by Alice Tappenden
NZ Fringe 2014
RESPITE
A monologue by Eamonn Marra

at 19 Tory St, Wellington
From 14 Feb 2014 to 16 Feb 2014
[45 mins]

Reviewed by John Smythe, 15 Feb 2014


It's intriguing to contemplate what makes this 45-minute effort so absorbing and funny. The truth of his story has a lot to do with it. The fact that the survivor of his own self-defeating state of mind is telling us this is testament to the ‘happy ending' implicit in the very existence of Respite.

Eamonn Marra's story of his own late-blooming ‘coming of age' is simultaneously funny and dark. How does a boy from Christchurch cope with trying to live an ethical life, let alone skinheads, earthquakes and Hoyts Riccarton Mall? It can all come to a head over which bananas to buy …

It's not so much a sympathy vote he wins from us but an empathy vote. We can all relate to his experiences and dilemmas, either in a ‘been there thought that' kind of way or on a ‘there but for the grace of some greater force go I' level.

Marra is generous, first with the bowls of chippies he provides and then with the compelling details of what he has been through: details that may on the one hand seem small but on the other attest to the authenticity of experiences some of us may not have had, for example at the hands of police or the mental health system.

Indeed whether he's talking about navigating his way through earthquake-stricken Christchurch or settling into his Respite facility, it turns out the ordinariness of some of it can be as debilitating as the overwhelming inability to get a grip and take control of one's circumstances.

Generosity reciprocated with a koha (which may, by the way, help resolve his dental issues) will be rewarded with a copy of his ‘zine' entitled Everything is so sad and funny and nothing is anything else, full of even more writing gems.
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