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Five Storytellers Bared Their Souls in The Monti: A Fish Out of Water on Jan. 19th at RLT

The Monti presented <em>A Fish Out of Water</em> on Jan. 19th at Raleigh Little Theatre

The Monti presented A Fish Out of Water on Jan. 19th at Raleigh Little Theatre

The Monti’s website tells us that it “is an organization whose mission is to create community through the telling of stories,” and that they “invite ordinary people to tell extraordinary stories.” The stories are always on a common theme, and they are always true. The Monti presented The Monti: Fish Out of Water at Raleigh Little Theatre on the night of Tuesday Jan. 19th.

Monti founder Jeff Polish hosted, and five gifted storytellers each shared a 12-minute personal narrative. Polish shared a few very short stories of his own while he acted as M.C. His story about the subject of “The Talk” was cute on several levels, and his “Hundred Dollar Story” was very entertaining.

First up was Judy Dove. Her story included multiple examples of prejudice to which she had been exposed while growing up as the only Japanese-American child in the community. Her resulting isolation led her to nurturing of her creative skills, and her efforts ultimately led to the establishment of a literary magazine, a creative outlet for all students at her school.

Next, David Potori told how his job with ABC TV led to his being singled out for ridicule on an occasion when he was the only white spectator at a performance by a black comedian. His experience has helped him empathize with victims of similar and often more serious unwanted attention. His story also mentioned the mantra shared by himself and his fellow improvists at Raleigh’s ComedyWorx: “I got your back.”

Meleah Gabhart was third. She shared her experiences first as a daughter growing up in a family of nomadic survivalists and later as a wife in a religious cult community. Neither environment was conducive to the development of young woman’s self-image and self-esteem. We share in the victory of her ability to escape and to rise above these circumstances.

After a brief intermission, Erin Duffy related her odyssey from a small Oklahoma town to an out-of-state law school to a law firm in Oklahoma, where there was a “culture of demeaning talk about women” and beyond. She told about her grandfather (“Bapa”), a very proper and gentlemanly lawyer who had been a role model. Like her Bapa, Erin hopes always to “make things better” than she found them. Unlike him, she says, “I do buy my liquor in Raleigh.”

The final storyteller was Harry Payne, who took us with him on a recap of his debilitating bouts with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He told us that he had not wanted “to be odd … to have a secret” and that “it is hard to be cool when a corner of you is crazy.” His triumph came later in life when he was able to work together with his children and deal with their problems “out in the open.”

The entire audience was captivated by every one of these stories. We never felt that we were listening to a memorized and rehearsed monologue. Rather, we felt that we were listening to five intimate testimonies, to stories coming straight from the heart of the tellers.

In ninth-grade English class, we learned that “a short story is a slice of life.” At Raleigh Little Theatre, The Monti: Fish Out of Water treated us to rich and well-prepared slices of the lives of five storytellers. We highly recommend that everyone should be sure, at least once, to experience The Monti.

THE MONTI: FISH OUT OF WATER (The Monti, Jan. 19 at Raleigh Little Theatre).



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Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Reviews