Kyla Garcia’s The Mermaid Who Learned To Fly is a one-woman show that’s part autobiography, part fairy tale and part performance art. It tells the tail (sic) of Victoria Valentin, a starry eyed dreamer who yearns to be a writer. Like all good little girls, she works hard and is rewarded with honors in the idyllic world of education. But when she hits young adulthood, she hits a wall; she falls in love – twice.
Soon Victoria Valentin is torn between two lovers – one male, the other female – one stable, the other feral. Garcia reaches for all the right metaphors here, identifying her struggle with that of the mermaid, torn between two yearnings – one down to the sea, one up to the earth. This archetypal resonance gives the piece its dimension and theme as well as a rich language of imagery that fills the bare stage, along with a large cast of characters, all played by Garcia.
Garcia, who both writes and performs, is a delight. As she reenacts scenes from her past, characters she met along the way come to life: a brash but insightful New Jersey psychic; a not-so-insightful therapist; and even both of her lovers. Garcia’s comic timing is flawless, as are her acting chops. Her mother’s grief becomes as palpable as the tears steaming down her face. Garcia also performs movement sequences to her pre-recorded voice as an additional textural and expressive element.
The Mermaid Who Learned To Fly smacks of authenticity. Garcia doesn’t have to connect the dots because it’s all there waiting for us to discover in our own way. For me, being psychologically oriented, it was easy to see how this little girl, whose parents’ divorce sent her into her first round of therapy, ends up torn between a two lovers – a woman and a man. And it’s baffling why her inept therapist was unable to make that connection.
Victoria’s story is co-narrated by her Fairy, whose “heartbeat is tied to one human dreamer.” She operates much like a fairy godmother, watching over Victoria Valentin, but only allowed to reach out with help once in each lifetime. She roots for her dreamer, this girl whom she loves, as we root for this writer/performer whom we grow to love too. What her fairy encourages us to shout out mid-performance is clearly in evidence here: “Hey Victoria (Kyla) you’re supposed to be writing!” – and magically, she is!
The Mermaid Who Learned How to Fly – By Kyla Garcia; directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson
WITH: Kyla Garcia (all characters)
Lighting by Jared Dager; sound by Sebastian Zetin; production stage manager, Christina Robinson, producer, Kyla Garcia,public relations, Jim Martyka; creative consultant, Kevin Kittle. Presented by the Hollywood Fringe Festival and Elephant Studio Theatre in association with Theatre Asylum 6320 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90038 (323) 962-1632 One Remaining Performance – Saturday 6/28 at 8:30PM hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1887?tab=tickets Running time: 55 minutes