First streamed on Saturday, June 6, 2020, THE BOOK THAT WON’T CLOSE, CONFESSIONS OF A LOVE ADDICT is another entry into the “Best of the Fest” productions at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest in early 2020. Written and performed by TJ Forsberg and directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, this is a book which digs into the inner workings of its author, an accomplished, biculturally fluid deaf woman who can’t seem to succeed in the relationship arena. The dark comedy features music, dance, and TJ’s attempts to close the book on failed affairs through intense and progressively deeper burrowing into her past and what makes her tick.
Born in Nova Scotia to a family that almost defines dysfunctional, TJ must come a long way to reprogram her beliefs into constructive and insightful truths. Between an alcoholic and abusive father – who finally accidentally sets the house afire – to a disinterested and bigoted mother who finds it difficult to love – TJ has her task set out for her. Especially as she consistently makes all the wrong choices in a string of abusive adult relationships, TJ manages to do a pretty good job of replicating all that was bad in her childhood. Ultimately, her chosen path, meditation, works for her in acknowledging, examining, and finally making new choices in the path her life takes. Armed with new insight, she is able to see the many men in her past as teachers without whom she would not have arrived at her healthier and happier state.
Woven into TJ’s story is also an educational goal as she advocates for the hearing challenged and helps audiences understand the many differences (and prejudices) between different types of “deaf” – from the totally deaf who rely on American Sign Language to the hard of hearing who can hear and speak, sometimes with the aid of modern technology. Since TJ clearly puts herself right on the cusp between the hearing and deaf worlds, this distinction becomes critical in understanding her and her journey.
TJ’s tale is told on an empty stage which used only projections to assist in making her points. Periodic music punctuates the story – after all, TJ has been a professional singer who achieved some notoriety in the deaf community due to her rising about the odds. Overall, however, this play is an account that remains inside her head – although her very expressive voice and body movements most definitely contribute to her global presentation. In a word, TJ is a live wire with lots of life, both inside and out.
The Book That Won’t Close, Confessions of a Love Addict can be streamed from the Whitefire Theatre’s library. Tickets are $9.99 with a service charge of $2.60. For tickets and information, call Whitefire at 818-687-8559 or go online.