When given the opportunity to review any show of my choice at the Capital Fringe Festival, I immediately selected Discharged after reading the description: “Family roles that box us in and freak us out.” This is something, I thought, that I can definitely relate to, along with most of the U.S. population.
Discharged written by Erin Webreck stars Kelley Quinn taking on the roles of four different characters—a cop, his daughter, a workaholic attorney, and a depressed twenty-something. With separate 10 to 15 minute monologues, Quinn does an excellent job of establishing each character’s personality and backstory.
We first meet Don, a cop in his late fifties who regrets the distant relationship he has with his daughter, a homosexual, living with her partner. He candidly discusses his thoughts about her choices. The audience is then introduced to Katherine, a workaholic lawyer, resentful that she was pressured by her father into a career in law. She talks about her childhood, revealing that her sister is “crazy” and has been hospitalized for several suicide attempts.
The pieces begin to fall into place when we meet Amelia, Katherine’s sister. The four characters are somehow connected. As the depressive Amelia, Quinn comes off as both endearing and hilarious, by displaying minor quirks such as attempting to do yoga at a bus stop. Her humor shines a light on her mental health issues and how her family conflicts have affected her illness. With Katherine and Amelia, Quinn manages to create two distinctive characters, many times with entertaining personality traits that evoke laughs from the audience.
Finally, there’s Hannah, a distressed and lonely mother who is contemplating ending her relationship with her girlfriend. Hannah’s father is Don, the cop, and her lawyer happens to be Katherine.
Both Webreck and Quinn manage to pull off an intriguing story with limited props, costuming, and set. In the small, intimate setting, Quinn’s monologues seem more like a conversation with the audience. There’s certainly lots to think about after meeting all four characters.
Following the performance, Webreck and Quinn answered questions. Their personal experiences inspired them to create the show. Webreck, with a background in law, handles most of the writing, and Quinn, with a background in theater, tackled the four character roles. Their appearance in this year’s Capital Fringe Festival was their debut; they have never performed it in front of an audience before. Erin said she initially didn’t really think about taking the show further than the Fringe Festival, but now that the show has been so well-received, she is looking into bringing the performance elsewhere, and is even tossing around the idea of maybe visiting New York!
The next showing of Discharged is at 2 p.m. on July 29, 2012, at Choas on F, 923 F St NW DC. For more information about Discharged visit the Capital Fringe Festival 2012 website.