Addison — The season opener for Proper Hijinx offers a few firsts. It is the world premiere of a play by its founder and artistic director Stefany Cambra, and it is the first time Cambra has moved out of directing and into the role of actor for the company. DR Mann Hanson directs Cambra in Big Enough: The Musings and Misadventures of a Bumblefuck, her one-woman show that is playing in the Studio Theatre at the Addison Theatre Centre.
In keeping with Cambra’s interest in creating pieces that are intimate and contemporary, Big Enough pulls the audience into the character’s world for 80 minutes as she makes an important life decision. A modern woman of the 21th century, she neither feels compelled to marry nor to have an enduring romantic relationship. Secure as she is in that way, she also seesaws between resignation and frustration over her weight. The audience meets her awaiting a Zumba class. For the first time, she finds herself having to choose between the self she knows that nobody sees, and the woman everyone else wants her to be.
It is a treat to see Cambra onstage as a performer, a role that hopefully she will find more time in her busy schedule to accommodate in the future.
The autobiographical feel of the piece contributes to its intimacy. The strongest part of the script is the segment surrounding everything leading up to and including the prom. There are flashes of humor relatable for women such as the boutique prom-dress-shopping segment. Relatability is a theme in Cambra’s works and she does so by opening relationship drawers usually kept at least partially closed. One of those drawers for women is their relationship with food. It is a topic shared among women but rarely with men. This character finds that the self she knows has outgrown her drawer and is finally big enough for others to see.
The set is minimal with only a few yoga mats on the floor. Dance workouts are the backdrop, handled mostly through graphic projections. Cambra and Hanson are the production designers with lighting by Jason Foster. The graphic design is by Stevie Bales, and Shane Strawbridge served as dramaturg for the show.
A new work, once up and on its feet, can flex and change over future performances as it finds its sweet spot. There is work to be done here. Distance can help the tweaking and reshaping process especially when the performer and writer are the same person. It would be interesting to see what Cambra might do with the show as its director, partnering with a different actor in the role, applying some of what she has learned through performing it.
Her playwriting nestles in spaces ignored or at the very least, less explored. Cambra is comfortable offering unexpected translations of familiar themes. Now that the baby has been birthed, the discovery can continue. Big Enough: The Musings and Misadventures of a Bumblefuck finally has room to breathe.