‘The Strongest Girl In The World’ Is A Touching Tribute To The Writer’s Father: Review

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The Strongest Girl In The World
The Strongest Girl In The World

★★★★✰

Truly Siskind-Weiss’ solo, autobiographical show The Strongest Girl In The World is a play about her father, who passed away when she was ten years old from cancer. As she tells us at the start of the performance, she knows her father through other people, so Siskind-Weiss uses anecdotes from her childhood to paint a vivid picture of the man and the impact he had on her and her family.

The show has a non-traditional structure and is told through various vignettes. Truly flicks between summer camp, home life and the final holiday that the family went on together. Scenes where a younger Truly reflects on how much she enjoys summer camp, and the freedom that she gets from skiing down slopes are interspersed with flashbacks to the counselling sessions that she attended  shortly after her father’s death. She hates these sessions, and fantasizes about screaming, shouting and being violent while she is forced to sit meekly and follow the counsellor’s instructions. These scene changes are clearly indicated by props, and Truly hums traditional campfire songs under her breath as she rearranges them. Her use of props is very imaginative: a coat hanger with a jumper is used to represent her older sister, while upturned books represent the waves on the beaches of Greece.

Although the show is set in America, Siskind-Weiss evokes nostalgia right from the start of the performance as Taylor Swift’s ‘Our Song’ plays while the audience takes their seats. She reflects on her Twilight phase, where she was so obsessed with the book her mother had to send it to her at summer camp, and she remembers dancing to Hannah Montana before she is told about her father’s diagnosis.

Siskind-Weiss crams lots into this short 45 minute show, which inevitably means that not all ideas are explored fully. In one scene, she describes how she feels out of place as her manner and body type isn’t the same as her peers. I’d have loved to see this explored further: in a world where girls are often still expected to fade into the background it’s so important to hear that being loud and taking up space isn’t a negative thing. However, she has a wonderful way with words and the way that she that she describes concepts such as her desire to be fragile, and her mother’s unappreciated strength in staying together for the sake of her children, is remarkable.

A lovely tribute to her father, The Strongest Girl In The World is bound to pull on your heartstrings and make you feel nostalgic.

Words by Ellen Leslie


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