In her first collection of essays, Joan Didion wrote “Anything worth having has its price.” She didn’t resort to cliches like: “Life isn’t fair,” or “You can have it all.” In her simple, non-judgmental way she summed up a truth that we may have suspected, but carefully avoided confronting. In Big Enough (her one-woman show) Stefany Cambra reveals tough but realistic insights into human endeavors, by sharing crucial aspects of her life thus far.
Cambra begins by entering in brightly colored gym clothes, huffing as she works out for a short spell, then plops herself down to confide in us, and indulge in some “nutritious” work-out treats. Including wine. Her wry sense of humor is definitely one of her strong points. She describes internal debates with self-esteem and body issues. Fair to say this piece comes from the viewpoint of an American woman who will not predicate personal value on her ability to land a man. She does however, listen far too often to that deprecating voice we all entertain: “Is this because I don’t need a spouse, or couldn’t find one if I tried?” Her friends’ attempts to reassure her feel somewhat like consolation platitudes, so she resolves to reshape her body, without making others feel inadequate. This is part of Cambra’s charm. Even when she takes digs, she earnestly respects others feelings.
We follow Stefany as she takes on the ordeals of the Senior Prom, dating while maintaining a palpable, exhilarating commitment to the theatre, dieting and yoga. Like other prolonged, contemporary soliloquies, she strikes a casual tone, connecting with individuals in the audience. We exercise along with her (if we so choose) we listen to her mantras, we are privy to her love/hate affair with The Hallmark Channel. She is genuine and engaging and congenial, without getting perky. Her quirky asides sneak in as she takes us through the ragged, jagged hoops that grown-ups must endure. She plods along in the face of merciless disappointment.
Stefany Cambra’s great strength is her ability to find these hideous aches that go unnoticed or at least without articulation. She recognizes this great, conspiratorial myth that if we’re very, very, careful to live our lives deliberately, and without error, the cosmos will reward us with bliss. That we will never be forced to make painful choices. Cambra could have easily coasted on her warmth, her affability, her intuitive charisma. But instead she chooses into pull us into the raw core of her self-doubt, her confusion, her despair. She doesn’t tell us these things, she enters that realm and includes us, without vanity or shame. She trusts us. And if we trust her, we will be overwhelmed. And stunned.
Proper Hijinx presents Big Enough: the Musings and Misadventures of a Bumblefuck, playing (February 9th-19th, 2017.) The WaterTower Theatre (Studio space). 16560 Addison Road, 75001. 972-450-6241. properhijinx.com