Accidental Nostalgia ****

Accidental Nostalgia is like one’s experimentation with a fine wine: it is an enjoyable experience provided that one acquires the taste.  Subtitled An Operetta About the Pros and Cons of Amnesia, it is a multi-media bluegrass musical that mixes social satire with absurdist humour and a complicated identity quest.

It is also a very difficult production to describe.  It begins with Cynthia Hopkins’ character giving a lecturer on a new book she has written, which deals with memory and identity.  Her talk is punctuated by musical interludes and fleets of memory problems before a major digression involving the identity of her parents and whether or not she killed her father takes us into the much faster paced and enjoyable second half.  Through all of this, she is backed by a four-piece band and two men who act as commentators, stage hands and backing singers and dancers.

Whether one likes the show or not will probably depend on one’s opinion of Hopkins’ performance.  I found her to be a very good singer and funny performer, though her humour is so subtle and her writing structure so off the wall that it took a while to win me over.  But it finally did, and once I warmed to her performance style I found myself enthralled by both her talents and her story.

Accidental Nostalgia is a very charming and enjoyable musical experience.  It makes its audience work, but those that are willing to invest in the production will certainly be rewarded by a winning performance, led by an extremely talented individual.

Playing at the Traverse at 22.30 until August 30.

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