2018 Windsor Fringe Review: The Session Serves Up Dirt on Mental Illness and Abuse

The-Session-Monologues are tough to pull off because great acting ability and a moving story are essential to its success – plus audiences really need to make a connection in some way with the character in the show. The Session, playing at the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe Festival, although a tiny bit long, succeeds on a few different levels.

The Session tells the story of Leslie, a young incarcerated woman who is forced to undergo a psychiatric assessment and discuss her life story. Through an extensive and emotional meeting, which must have been thoroughly exhausting and mentally draining for actress Rais Mendes-Clarke, we learn about a mental illness that peaked with a passionate and violent murder.

Leslie’s a tough cookie that left an abusive home and ended up working on the streets to make a living. While the average audience member might not connect with exploits of a street-walking prostitute, The Session is more about the journey she made to end up in prison. Her life began as innocent and welcoming as any, but with an abusive mother and several shady characters along the way, we end up with a mentally challenged individual who broke down in a violent rage. Through Leslie we get to see how precious life is and how just a couple of bad seeds can change someone’s life forever.

This show was all about dialog, movements and emotions. The stage was bare, except for a makeshift couch and we only had two costumes – an orange jumpsuit and a short dress, which was neatly tucked under the jumpsuit. This gave Mendes-Clarke a chance to explore the character through a series of memories, actions and emotional breakdowns.

The Session is a great example of the deep, dark and emotional side of Fringe. Not everything in life is fluffy, rosy and all sugarcoated. With this play we got the dirt, the grime and the mildew of what mental and physical abuse can do to someone. If you’re looking for something a little deeper, this is a great Fringe selection. It still plays Saturday (July 28) at 9 pm and Sunday (July 29) at 6 pm. Tickets and Fringe buttons are still available.