by Ed Malin · February 20, 2015
Post-Traumatic Super Delightful is the new show written and performed by Antonia Lassar and directed by Angela Dumlao for Frigid 2015 and is thereafter bound to tour Edmonton Fringe, college campuses, and more. It’s a serious subject, powered by one actress playing multiple characters, and yet it invites us in with a red-nosed, flatulent Clown. In fact, the Clown is a performer who has interviewed several people about an alleged campus rape, with the goal of creating a performance piece. As in her Frigid 2013 show “The God Box”, Antonia explores the extreme highs and lows of life from rapidly changing, energized viewpoints.
Dr. Margaret Roach is the character who had both “Julia” (the rape survivor) and “Bryan” (the rapist) in her class last term. Although Bryan has been suspended from school for one semester due to the alleged incident, Margaret has discussed the matter with Bryan and is filing an appeal for him. Immediately we get a sense of how authority figures make snap judgments based on appearance, sometimes choosing not to believe someone who reports a rape. Margaret and Bryan speak with the Performer, giving complicated testimony. As can be expected following such trauma, Julia declines to speak with the Performer.
However, the college has recently hired Lina, a feisty Russian lady who fights Title IX violations. She has spoken with Julia and will not let her institution, which receives federal funds, discriminate against students on the basis of sex. I applaud Ms. Lassar for preparing to go to colleges and raise questions such as: if post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental disability, are rape survivors’ grades evaluated accordingly?; if the alleged rapist is still walking around campus, doesn’t that interfere with the survivor’s education?
Bryan’s knowledge of his conduct conflicts with his alcoholic amnesia. It is possible to sympathize with him a little, especially when he gives his impression of rapists as violent, unknown attackers, nothing about which resembles him. In contrast, even his parents told him of their first drunken hook-ups. Bryan is a “southern gentleman” and has Margaret believing him for a while. To see what happens (and hopefully to being the discussion to your friends, family, students, etc.) go see the play.
There are so many poignant moments in this show. Since one might be raped by an acquaintance, what would be the best thing to do upon finding his business card? How can Canadian First Nation Reservations show the rest of us how to resolve disputes? What does a strong rape survivor like and what might she be feeling? What further poetry can the ceiling fan—sole reliable witness—offer? The Clown literally jumps at the opportunity to illustrate or flashcard what is often hard to say.