May 15, 2007
Phillyist Reviews... Out of Sight

DISCLOSURE: Jill, our editor, is working on Out of Sight, but she is not in the production nor had any input with this review.

Wow. I was not ready to jump into Sara Felder's life on opening night of Out of Sight. I was in the middle of a conversation with my friend (whom I'll later discuss) when suddenly Felder appeared on stage. As she welcomed us to her one-act performance, she cautioned us on the usual cellphone, candy wrapping and other annoying audience habits that happens all too often in the theatre. She told us to continue our conversations before the show started, so I started back up again soon realizing that this was the beginning of her show. Some reason I thought there would be a black-out or something. Nope. It had started.

Sara Felder's Out of Sight is a figurative and literal look at her personal relationship with her mother who is nearly blind. Felder also dives deep into family loyalty and the art of "seeing" each other. This brief synopsis would imply that everyone should be able to understand the metaphors and themes that are presented in this show. This narrative specifically deals with Felder's account of being a lesbian as well as her Jewish upbringing. These two things (I'll be honest) I did not encounter growing up in West Coast suburbia. Since moving to Philly, I've actually become best friends with a Jewish lesbian (who purposely came with me to this performance). Yes, I understood most of the jokes and appreciated a lot of the narrative but on a few things I needed some background knowledge, most notably on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That's where my friend comes in.

My friend thought Felder's discussion about the Isreali-Palestinian conflict was brave and candid considering that it is such a volatile topic. She spoke about it in such a sensitive and diplomatic way that regardless of what side you are on, the audience was able to understand both points of view. Felder also addressed the fact that the Orthodox Jewish community was more willing to accept that Felder is gay over her being a Reformed Jew. This is something that is very pertinent in today's Jewish gay community and Felder breached the subject with humor and candor.

Technically speaking, this show was an incredible feat. Felder's ninety-minute monologue with all of the juggling (yes I said juggling), movement, singing, and shadow puppets were beautifully crafted and well performed. Each nuance and line was purposefully acted with raw emotion. Her talented juggling skills were seamlessly included into the performance to help propel the story and metaphor forward while giving the audience a visually pleasing experience. At one point, Felder even juggled knives. (It's best to not sit on the front row.) Each time she juggled, it was effortless and technically advanced. Previous to this, I had never seen juggling at this advanced level. But the reason Out of Sight works is because the juggling is understated and puts emphasis on Felder's experiences rather than on a circus act. You don't leave feeling you left the circus, quite the contrary, you feel uplifted by a very personal journey for truth and love.

My eyes were opened to an world that I wasn't that familiar with. I found myself likening many of my own life experiences against Felder's even though at first glance they are very different. Out of Sight is a beautiful and quite comical narrative about relationships, love, loyalty and acceptance. Something that everyone can relate to, even me.
Image courtesy of Sara Felder's website.