“We Call Them Unredeemable” is a one man show by Jim Sea currently performing at the Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery as part of the 2017 St. Lou Fringe Festival.
The story follows a therapist who is trying to help an imprisoned sex offender have a breakthrough in his sessions with her and understand why he has done what he did. The therapist approaches a government official with a new program to try to help the inmate. But the official has his own ideas as to how to handle the offender.
Jim Sea plays all three characters. He moves back and forth between them using a single prop for each one to delineate between the trio. He does modulate his voice for each one, but at times they blended together a bit. The use of a screen with a projection of a picture of each character also helps to let you know which character is being represented.
Through monologues for each character, we learn about the actions that led to the inmate’s arrest, the personal attacks made on the therapist and why she decided to go into therapy, and the journey the government official makes in deciding to spend money on a new program to help the inmate. The monologues are well written and the back stories told for the inmate and the therapist are moving and powerful. Although, a few moments in the beginning of the piece I felt like I was being overloaded with a lot of statistical information about sexual assault. The numbers are important to know. But a couple of times I felt they got in the way of the storytelling. The piece really shines when we are listening to why each of the characters are here.
The Gallery doesn’t lend itself to a good performance space for this type of show. The back wall is made of windows that face Grand Avenue. Although the blinds were shut, all of the traffic noise from outside came through. And with as soft as Sea spoke at times, his voice was drowned out. Noise from the lobby of the Kranzberg Arts Center also came in when people started to congregate there. Sea seemed to be distracted by these elements a few times as he would look out in those directions.
There were also a few technical problems. The projections used were delayed a couple of times and at one point a sound cue was very delayed, then stopped in the middle and started over. Again, Sea looked up at these moments and broke character to look at the technician. It took me out of the moment for a bit. He recovered well each time and the performance was never halted. I would argue that the projections weren’t really needed. They were merely used as an aid to let you know which character was speaking. I think Sea did a fine job with that on his own.
Even with the minor technical problems, the overall message still resonated. Why do we not try to prevent these crimes from happening by offering help, instead of dealing with them after the fact? One of the more poignant questions asked is why are there no billboards or public service announcements about helping those with sexual dysfunction. We have registries and punish those who are convicted after the crimes are done. But why don’t we do more to try to stop them from ever happening in the first place?
There are two more performances of “We Call Them Unredeemable” as part of the St. Lou Fringe. They are Saturday, August 19 at 2:30 pm and Sunday, August 20 at 2:30 pm. For more information about the show, please go to http://www.unredeemablesolo.com.