You might think it’d be bold of me to state that Bookworm was one of the most moving performances I’ve seen. A little dramatic even, perhaps you’d say a touch hyperbolic. But it’s actually just accurate.
Bookworm is a one man show, performed by Corin Raymond, a musician by profession who shares about the roots, soul and far reaching scope of his love of books. In the program for bookworm he tells us that this is his first non-musical performance and that he hopes this was a good idea. Indeed it was.
At once heartbreaking, hilarious and awe-inspiring, we’re told his story from before he was brought into this world by a mother who gave her own life for his. We’re welcomed into his twice widowed father’s house, crowded with so many books Corin would head home, rather than to the library, when needing to tackle a school project. His story telling is so vibrant, so robust, so alive that as he tells us about the cabinet containing his father’s books on Winston Churchill, I could see his reflection in the glass painted by his words. I could smell the basement where he read the Golden Compass aloud to his brother and could hear the paper tearing as he unveiled the most extraordinary gift he’d ever received.
He tells us that he believes that books have a soul and he doesn’t just tell us, he shows us. Corin brings to life the stories of his favourite authors but also the inner worlds of children and adults alike. The ache and pain and poetry of what it simply means to be a human being and how what we so deeply long for can be touched and met through contact with the written word left me weeping hours after I left this performance.
He speaks of the secret actors, those who come alive in the bedrooms of children at night to tell stories. I was reminded of my own uncle, taking my brother and me to the edge of the lake in Ontario when we were kids in the pitch dark, scaring the shit out of us with tales of the wabawaba monster. Corin reminds us of the magic of stories, the friendship of characters and the sacredness of books that in this digitized age can be so easily forgotten.
While I do read to my own child every night and delight in recreating for him what was created for me as I child, admittedly there are nights where I’m going through the motions. After leaving bookworm I could barely wait till nightfall. I could barely wait to go beyond reading about the witch and actually be the witch. Last night as I chased my boy through the dark hallway being the bear, he screamed “You’re too real mom, you’re too real!” Thank you Corin, I’m doing my job.
And is that not what we want to do as artists? Transform ourselves and others? If you get a chance to see this show, do. It’ll change you.
**Our very own TJ Dawe was Bookworm's Dramaturge