With a crazed look in her eye, Margolin yells, "I'm not suicidal, I swear!" Her declaration shocked the audience, immediately commanding their attention.
Deb Margolin's emotionally-driven solo performance about her life leaves no stone unturned, no place to hide. Her piece,"8 Stops," is hard-hitting, messy, and may make you squirm–but you are not likely to forget it.
Transitioning deftly from scene to scene, from breastfeeding her newborn child to informing the audience about her past diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Margolin peppers her tragedy with biting humor and sometimes whimsy commentary. Immediately after receiving the news about her cancer diagnosis, Margolin's husband treats her to dinner at a local diner. She describes the pain, the grief and jealousy she feels upon seeing a happy, healthy family. :"She'll live a long time, I hate her. I could just kill everyone here and they can't even sentence me to capital punishment because I was just diagnosed with capital punishment this morning!" she frantically exclaims.
Throughout the play, Margolin held the entirety of the text of her performance in her hand. Margolin explained that though she had most of the script memorized, she just couldn't get on stage without it, "after what I've been through, I need the script or I'd have a heart attack!" she said with laughter.
And on top of her sickness, she goes on to describe her son, Bennett, and the visions he so often got. He felt death—"a complete darkness, a vacuum of nothingness, endless silence, and an incomprehensible texture". He cried—she consoled. Playing the part of Bennett, she said, "I'm scared momma" over and over, and with every word "Bennett" said, the audience became more and more engulfed within the story, as if the pain he and she both felt was shared with all of us. Through both her own situation and her son's, she described what she titled the "Effective Methods for Staving off Grief."
After the performance, Margolin answered questions and comments regarding the nature of her performance and her beliefs. To her, performing solo, in fact, is not performing solo at all. She considers it to be a production of a variety of characters and believes it to be an honor to perform for audiences. And the best part she says, is that solo performances provide her with the freedom to talk about what she desires; it's her story, no one else can change it.
Margolin traces the resurgence of solo performances – her own included – to the era of women's political activism in the 1960s and '70s. Having been held subordinate for so long, women began organizing "consciousness raising" sessions to share their experiences, to create parallels between those experiences and prevalent social constructs, and above all, to find a voice.
Her purpose is to provide women with a sort of inspiration: a voice that can provide them with the confidence to tell their own stories, as each and every woman experiences a unique set of struggles and accomplishments, but, regardless of their differences, each deserves to be heard.
As I was leaving the show, I realized Margolin had introduced me to a new way of viewing death, as not just an intangible concept, but rather a description of it as something we can see, feel, and hear. After hearing her narrative, I also felt grateful for my health and that of my loved ones, as in any given moment, things could take a turn for the worse. Margolin successfully portrayed her story, while also teaching members of the audience, including me, new ideas and valuable lessons.