I have reservations about reviewing BIND, an hour-long monologue written and performed by Corinna Burns and presented as part of the Fringe Festival. Although the production charges admission ($10), it feels very much like a workshop, with Burns still refining the scope of the piece and building her character. She performs script in hand on the bare stage of the Drake’s Proscenium Theatre, where she’s simultaneously appearing in TURN OF THE SCREW, another festival entry. The house lights remain up, and only Burns’ costume — a gray Swarthmore College sweatshirt up top, knee-high boots and fishnets down below — suggests any sort of conscious attempt at staging.The costume acknowledges the twin worlds Burns occupied in 1993, when the story takes place. At twenty years old and unable to afford her education, she dropped out of college and started working as a dominatrix. This creates a fascinating duality — still a virgin, the aspiring performer must act the part of savvy sexual being, creating an alluring air of mystery, pleasing clients who crave discipline and control. The sweet and sheltered suburban girl quickly spirals down a rabbit hole of fast living, easy money and a steady supply of Bolivian marching powder.
Burns has long been one of Philadelphia’s best (and most underrated) actors. She easily communicates likability and earnestness; at the same time, her deep-set, haunted eyes sear the soul. She puts both qualities to good use here, and it’s something a fully staged production will only heighten. Burns could infuse her text with more poetry, and I longed for a deeper dive into the complicated family backstory that sets the plot in motion. Hopefully those elements will be addressed as the piece continues its development.
BIND is unfinished but extremely worthy. And there’s a thrill of seeing a promising work in its earliest form, especially when it’s the creation of one of Philly’s finest performers. Three performances remain.
[The Proscenium at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street] September 20-24, 2017; fringearts.com/event/bind