BWW Review: Danna Schaeffer's YOU IN MIDAIR Explores Grief and Recovery Following the Loss of a Child
If you're my age or older, especially if you're from the Pacific Northwest, you probably remember when actress Rebecca Schaeffer was killed by a stalker in 1989. Now, almost 30 years later, Rebecca's mother, playwright, author, and therapist Danna Schaeffer, has written and stars in a new play that explores her own grief and long path to recovery and also seeks to make sure her daughter's life isn't defined by her death. If you're looking for intimate theatre, this is about as up close and personal as you can get.
YOU IN MIDAIR premiered earlier this year at Portland's Fertile Ground Festival and just completed a two-week run at New Expressive Works.
I'd describe YOU IN MIDAIR as a performed memoir. It begins a month before the murder, when Rebecca's career was really taking off, and which Schaeffer says was the happiest time in her life. Over the next 80 or so minutes, the play moves around in time, chronicling the murder and its immediate aftermath, as well as Schaeffer and her family's long road to healing. It's tragic, but also surprisingly funny - Schaeffer has a knack for wielding humor to cope with grief.
The show is most successful when it breaks from the narrative of actual events and instead focuses on Schaeffer's experience with things like the social expectations surrounding grief and how the loss of her daughter has continued to affect her life almost three decades later. One of the most touching moments is when she describes losing track of her own age because, unlike her peers, she doesn't have children and grandchildren to help her mark time. It's these types of observations - and Schaeffer writes them well - that transform YOU IN MIDAIR from being a show about a single tragedy to a show that gives us a broader understanding of how we, as individuals and as a society, deal with loss.
Learn more about the show and where it's going next on the website.
Photo credit: Owen Carey