Trigger warning: sexual assault/abuse, rape
Redemption is a one-man show, written and performed by James Walter Charleston (also known as Jim Sea, his stage name). I was one of six people who caught his performance on a rainy Sunday night at the 2018 Vancouver Fringe (although, in my video I state there were three of us, which is incorrect).
Charleston cites his wife’s death and his own history with abuse as inspirations for this show. It aims to end rape culture by making a case for prevention and recovery, and centers around three characters - the offender, his therapist, and a bureaucrat - which Charleston portrays with the ease and ability of a seasoned performer. Indeed, this is a topic that he is quite passionate about bringing attention to, as well as, it seemed to me, a deeply cathartic journey for him.
As a woman, I was concerned that a man would try to present as an authority, rather than an ally, concerning the issue of women’s sexual safety (a fear that was, for the most part, assuaged). I also found it problematic that a white man would portray an African American woman (why?). With Redemption, I feel like Charleston is coming from a well-intentioned place. But I was left feeling conflicted about some of his choices.
Redemption by Breaking the Cycle Films Ltd is playing 6 - 16 September at Studio 1398 as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Reija Jean
Overcome Stage Fright and find confidence in your unique voice.