Wicked Foun­tain of Youth

A one-per­son show takes on fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome with sen­si­tiv­ity and hu­mour.

The Coast - - HALIFAX FRINGE - —TT

Thu Sep 6, 7pm; Fri Sep 7, 6pm; Sat Sep 8, 11am & 10pm; Sun Sep 9, 12:30pm The Wait­ing Room, 6040 Al­mon Street $10/$7


Steele and Charlotte Weeks have spent the sum­mer driv­ing from Lon­don, On­tario with their show Wicked Foun­tain of

Youth, a por­trait of a teenager (Weeks) with fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome. Fresh off an Au­di­ence Award win at the Fundy Fringe in Saint John, the pair is lit­er­ally camp­ing out in Dart­mouth Cross­ing—af­ter their bil­let fell through, they set up a tent in Shu­bie Park. “We walked over the foot­bridge and got Swedish meat­balls the other day,” says Steele from the IKEA-ad­ja­cent camp­site.

Based on Steele’s ex­pe­ri­ences with her step­daugh­ter, who has FAS, Wicked Foun

tain of Youth gives Weeks a nearly hour-long mono­logue through one girl’s life with a bad mother who’s al­ways on the run or leav­ing her with abu­sive men, re­sult­ing in a life of petty crime, ar­son and de­struc­tion. When we meet her, she’s re­con­nected with her dad, try­ing to ad­just to a more even-keeled life.

There’s a sin­gle line near the end where Weeks says if you see a preg­nant woman drink­ing al­co­hol, take it away. Steele is fine with the brief but direct mes­sag­ing. “We had a dra­maturge work with us, he was from Toronto. He said it was a good por­trayal of a per­son with the dis­or­der—and we had a hint that you shouldn’t drink while you’re preg­nant—but it seemed like we were tip­toe­ing around what we wanted to say. ‘You need to not be afraid of that.’ He gave us per­mis­sion to just say what we wanted to say. Peo­ple aren’t go­ing around say­ing you can’t call peo­ple mur­der­ers when they kill peo­ple be­cause it might hurt their feel­ings.”

Hal­i­fax’ re­ac­tions to the show—a true feat of per­for­mance from Weeks—have var­ied. “Ev­ery au­di­ence is dif­fer­ent. Yes­ter­day we got lots of laughs. Other times it’s very quiet,” says Steele. “They’re so cau­tious—it’s like, this per­son has a dis­abil­ity, am I be­ing in­sult­ing if I laugh? I try to in­clude the funny moments be­cause oth­er­wise it’s such a tragedy.

“There’s an op­ti­mism on the part of the char­ac­ter—you can see how her choices are get­ting her into big trou­ble, but I wanted peo­ple to un­der­stand that when you see peo­ple that are act­ing out­side the norm, they have a ra­tio­nal rea­son, to them, for what they’re do­ing.”

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