By Holli Harms
Cassie Workman’s astonishing Aberdeen is a tragic poem of Euripidean intensity chronicling for us the life and death of Kurt Cobain and what his passing meant to her. She conjures for us the hero, the quiet god, full of flaws and glories akin to the Greek and Roman deities.
Cassie Workman is a poet, a sorcerer of words, and a woman trying to come to terms with the suicide of her hero who spoke to and for her. Kurt, an artist, an enormous flame of talent, burning too fast to keep up with itself. An artist that everyone thought of as a friend,
That’s how everyone thought of him
That’s why it hurt so much in the end.
This is her personal story and she tells us,
This is going to sound crazy
but just give me fifty-five minutes to explain.
This is the story of when I went back in time,
to save Kurt Cobain.
The piece is in four parts, each with sound and lighting and Cassie, nothing else. Nothing else is needed, only an empty stage but for Cassie and her words and the marvelous sounds, and noise that enhance the story, the sounds of a brain unhinging. The lighting cues of color shades and blackness, blowing us up and out, and back down, along with the words and story in a tight syncopation.
Aberdeen was the town in Washington State where Kurt grew up. Aberdeen self-proclaimed itself as The Lumber Capital of the World. Everyone in town worked at the lumber mills. Kurt grew up in a family and community of poverty, financially and emotionally. He grew up and eventually physically moved out but never grew out of the pain and suffering. His pain would be the genesis of his music, his lyrics, and his tunes. A way through pain turned into art. Cassie asks,
Should we forgive pain for the beauty it has wrought?
Aberdeen is a Shakespearean monologue accosting the ghosts of a man tortured by the demons of his past, the demons residing in him, and the lure of heroin and its release.
Cassie is a sage sent from on high to remind us of the life of a fallen god. Her descriptions are rich in rhyme and meter, delivering the emotional worlds we humans reside in where hearts and brains fight one another,
In an imperfect world, all life is chaos and therefore imperfect.
Kurt lived with a depth of depression which Cassie shares,
Depression is gospel.
When it talks so calmly and serenely
you think it is a friend…
There is security in depression.
Kurt generously truthfully spoke through his music about what so many go through in life as they leave childhood; teenage angst, depression, and confusion. He was a light in that maelstrom of confusion that burned itself out way too soon.
In the end, with lights out, there is silence. No one moves, for a moment, taking in this amazing performance and perfection of each word chosen and… then…and then… the explosion of applause.
This is a stunning performance. Stunning.
Soho Playhouse 15 Vandam St, New York, NY 10013
Through February 11. Tickets for Aberdeen HERE
FYI Soho Playhouse is on fire with spectacular performances. Check it out.