Friends, I don’t know that BOOKMARKS will get a more satisfying review than this one from Tor Lukasik-Foss, a Hamilton-based writer/storyteller of whom I’m a HUGE fan. Tor saw BOOKMARKS at the Hamilton Fringe and was inspired to write it. Speaking as the creator and performer of BOOKMARKS, it's high reward to feel this understood; to have the work I’ve done be this perceived, and articulately enjoyed :
BOOKMARKS (AN OFF-THE-RECORD REVIEW BY TOR LUKASIK-FOSS)
“I’m a sucker for good storytelling, but I’m also finicky—I don’t like it when stories are told in a way that feels acted, I don’t like it when stories have been polished to a high precision, and I don’t like it when stories are delivered solely for weightless amusement. I do like it when the craft of the storytelling is so hidden within a conversational delivery that I don’t notice it—when the teller seems to be speaking casually and only when I’m knee deep in their narrative do I realize that I’m enmeshed in something that is both poetic and precisely crafted.
This is why Bookmarks, written and performed by Corin Raymond, currently on view at the 2022 Hamilton Fringe, whalloped me as much as it did. It starts off so unassuming, and then in small, deliberate increments builds to a finish that is equally emotional and revelatory. No small feat for a play whose premise suggests nothing more than ‘books are cool”.
Through a succession of 5 or 6 monologues (I wasn’t counting), Raymond alternates between alliterative tributes to the tactile, talismanic quality of books and key biographical moments where his attachment to them has been forged. Within the weaving of these pieces is a seemingly inconsequential tale of losing a Helen Garner paperback in an Australian airport, and Raymond’s subsequent overreaction to the loss. This moment soon becomes a toggle switch for a more foundational trauma.
Normally, I think I might write it off as a storyteller’s trick to take a slight moment and then extrapolate on it so that it can talk to bigger and more elemental themes. But in Bookmarks, the sheer ferocity of Raymond’s conviction, and the urgency and vulnerability of his telling erase any notion that he is either contriving or being clever. By the end of the piece, it is evident that books are not just books for Raymond; they are tools essential for his survival. And those things that give us solace and stability should never ever be taken for granted; indeed, we should take time to recognize and venerate them.
And this is what Raymond has done. I’m grateful for it.”