Many of us, over the years, have questioned the existence of a God. If there is indeed a God, why do disasters take place? Why would he allow the good people of the earth to become ill and die before their time has come. Arlene Malinowski, in her wonderful solo performance “Aiming For Sainthood” now playing at the Richard Christiansen Theatre at Victory Gardens, takes us on a trip through a period of her life. Doing a one person show is not an easy task, but add to the show a “sign” component and one can see into the inner life of Ms Malinowski’s life. While she can hear, her parents were both deaf and so her story is one that is told in both voice and sign. Even the opening messages about not using cell phones, texting and opening candy are done in “sign” starting the evening off with a comical touch.
The story is about a portion of her life, when her mother was diagnosed with Cancer and she returned to her childhood home to be there and assist her deaf parents with answers to medical questions and to be there for the woman who brought her into the world. This is a rich and warm story filled with many anecdotes of her growing up, her family life and the trials and tribulations of being in two worlds- the “hearing” and “deaf” worlds. In a way, she is the product of two cultures and the translator for her parents in the everyday world we live in. During this marvelously told 90 minute story we revisit her past, her relationships with her sister, “The Baby”, her aunt Jane, her youth and her adulthood as she questions why God would do what he does .
Brilliantly written and performed by Ms Malinowski, directed by Will Rogers ( Associate Producer of VG “Fresh Squeezed” program) in the very intimate venue upstairs at Victory Gardens this is one of the warmest stories I have seen in the telling of one person’s life. Ms. Malinowski tells the story by playing a myriad of characters from her sister, to her parents, to the doctor, the male nurse and a few Priests and while each has their own voice, we know that these people all were a real part of the experience that she is sharing with us. We spend many days in the hospital and at home watching how she changes during the ordeal of having to face the reality of what an illness can do to a family, but through it all, arguments with her sister, ups and downs with her mother and the doctor, she perseveres and matures. Yes, this adult, little girl, grows up before our very eyes as we witness the changes in her life and that of her family.
This show, despite its theme is in no way a “downer”! In fact, I would say, it is a true look at life as it should be understood. I had a sibling and a parent die of Cancer and I too, recall those days at the hospital searching for answers and I also found that religion was the answer that brought me through my ordeal ( both brother and father passed in the same year), so , I truly understand what Ms Malinowski was going through. I also had a younger brother ( the “baby) who was, in my case, not even there to share the burden with me. This play is more about discovery than anything else; discovering who you are and your relationship with your family and with God. Ms. Malinowski looks into our faces in this intimate venue as she allows us to look into her heart and soul.This she does to perfection and I for one am anxious to see her next work.
This is a short run ( a real pity, as I would want many people I know to get a glimpse into the insight this writer has), so if you want to experience this warm and touching story as told by the masterful Arlene Malinowski, you can only do so through September 26th at The Biograph Victory Gardens Theater located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue. Performances are as follows:
Wednesday at 2 p.m., Thursday,Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
ALL of the shows are Sign Interpreted and on the 23rd and 26th audio description wil be added making this work available to all theater audiences.