Review: Slowly But Surely (for my father)

slowly

By Katrina Kytka

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Gemma Rose Marie Thorne describes herself as painfully honest, messy, loving and emotional. She feels deeply and communicates through colour and poetry, urging the audience and the world to, “Take all of me!” 

Gemma’s father always said she was a slowly, blossoming flower. The anchor of his steadfast faith in her unfolding is woven throughout her poetry. His sudden death when Gemma was eighteen rocked the very foundations of her young life with grief, trauma and subsequent mental illness. Yet this is a story of growth and strength beyond adversity.

Let’s start at the beginning, however, when the audience is invited to participate in a grounding, mindful and meditative reflection, to shake off the day and become present to the performance.  

A tapestry of evocative words is then spun in three parts. Poetry punctuated by music, song and story, all of it engaging. Heart-break, loss, panic, fear, unwanted violation, blankets sewn of secrets, excavations, therapy, the return of self-compassion. 

From the fabulous supporting cast on stage, Kayla’s beautiful, honeyed and soothing voice washes over the audience in lyric echoes of the unfolding story.

“Listening to rooms of strangers’ stories is how I heal”, says Gemma. In keeping with this theme, Kynesha is invited to share her particularly poignant and authentic story of delusions, psychosis and trying to win the complex game that played in her head. Ultimately, grieving the loss of herself, Kynesha wanted to get better so that she could communicate with people again. She describes coming out of the rabbit hole, to share the learning so that others might feel less alone. “Psychosis doesn’t mean we are more dangerous or can’t lead meaningful lives.”

This review would not be complete without making mention of Gemma’s make-up or costume changes. Imagine a pink, strawberry, fuschia and glittery glow suffusing the room, each costume more joyous and outlandish than the last, reflecting metamorphosis, transformation and self-acceptance.   

This self-declared warrior in sequins, mature beyond her years, tackles some big themes. Ultimately the performance reminds us of how timely conversation, care and community support in dark times, can lead to growth and healing.

mindshare will be posting reviews of shows with mental health themes on our blog and social media channels throughout Adelaide Fringe. Stay tuned for more reflections from contributors living with mental health challenges and/or working in the sector.

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