She Walks The Line
Clancy deploys both outlandish tales and intimate descriptions in a
memoir of growing up in the outer reaches of NYC.
her one-woman show, “Channel Rat,” Tara Clancy tells stories anyone from
an outer borough of New York, or a forsaken lower middle-class suburb
can identify with. Clancy’s stories are far out enough to be funny but
not so outlandish that they don’t seem like they could be real.
Clancy shows great
skill in writing and framing the material. In collaboration with her
director, Kel O’Neill, she makes direct eye contact with the audience
throughout the 75 minutes, and they use lighting like a scalpel to carve
out more intimate portions of the material and later to roll out a
broader canvas for the broader stories.
The show’s title is
derived from a little known two-mile long portion of Queens, N.Y.,
called Broad Channel that is sandwiched between Howard Beach and
Rockaway, whose inhabitants are derisively labeled “channel rats.” After
setting the stage of Broad Channel with description of its few features
that include a porta-potty company, two VFW posts and a bird sanctuary
of all things, Clancy sums it all up with a quick flow of words
describing the key features of the neighborhood and her family’s place
in it as she grew up.
But Broad Channel
was not the extent of Clancy’s experience growing up, as her mom took up
with a rich Manhattan business consultant after her parents’ divorce,
introducing the young Clancy to the Hamptons. It is here Clancy
stretches the canvas wider and adds more physical action to the telling
of her tales.
The third facet of
the triptych explored in Clancy’s show is time with her grandparents,
which later helps her relate to an old Broad Channel neighborhood woman
she encounters in a supermarket years later, labeled a “pitch-perfect
eccentric” and the “Sicilian mourner” for constant black attire -- but
not in derision rather in admiration. This portion reaches a peak in
Clancy’s description of her high-roller grandmother’s adventures in
So what are the
lessons for a Channel Rat, a Staten Islander or New Jersey native for
that matter, once they’ve escaped their origins to the city? Clancy
concludes that while they may think they’re above where they came from,
they shouldn’t forget the lessons learned in these places about what
makes sense in life. It’s a valuable lesson and it’s told with vivid
examples and wit.
will be performed in the Fringe Festival on August 20, 25 and 26.