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Review: The Archive of Educated Hearts at Holden Street Theatre

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

By Yona Eagle

In this poignant and courageous one-woman piece by Casey Jay Andrews, we learn the stories of four women central to her life - Dot, Karen, Auriole and Emma who are the grandmother, aunt and childhood singing and drama teachers of Casey.

As Casey focuses on the important women in her life, she distracts us from her own story deliberately. Casey has a high risk of one day developing cancer but this is not the show, not the story she wants to tell. She may have a genetically pre-disposed risk to breast cancer, but Casey doesn’t want this show to be the one known as the one about cancer.

Her monologue takes us far from cancer as a disease and instead has us focusing on how one opens their hearts and minds so as not to define those with cancer by their disease, but instead to allow wonderful memories to be created and a joyous commemoration of a life well lived to be the focus.

She reminds us that a breast cancer patient gives no permission to be known as a breast cancer patient – it just happens. Now known as a breast cancer patient, these people are first and foremost the mother, daughter, wife and friend, not the ‘sufferer,’ not the disease. And much like these women can become the patient themselves, they are often also the ones around the patient who are trying to ease the suffering of those around them.

Not only did Casey open my heart she opened my eyes that were full of tears. Casey tells a story that is sad and raw but filled with love. She tells of sufferers who put others before themselves and campaign to give the best possible quality of life to others going through the same ordeal.

To tie her story together Casey uses objects amassed from the past including a book - American Gelett Burgess’s 1923 manual on manners - Have You An Educated Heart from which she reads excerpts an old rotary telephone and vintage couches which all give you the feeling of being in someone’s past. These objects make up the set for her Holden St performance and act as a reminder of the support that surrounds her through this cancer.

It may be a show in which cancer sneaks in as a character of its own, but this is a show not about death, but about life.

I understand why Casey won the Scotsman fringe first award last year.

I look forward to her next production and recommend this one as an intimate and uplifting way to spend an hour.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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