Tamlynn Bryson suffered from bedwetting until the age of fourteen, roughly half her life. We can imagine that this would be no fun, but few who haven't experienced it can imagine the intricate ways it impedes normal childhood socialization, and the minute planning and second-guessing it requires.
For example, we learn about the complex strategies needed to attend a slumber party, strategies to prevent her not just from wetting a bed, but also from being seen to wear a diaper.
A voice in her head instructs her on this, a voice that comes to us through the theatre's audio system and that's commanding and officious and exhausting about how she must dress and how she must dispose of the diaper, making sure not to fall asleep again now that she's no longer wearing it.
During the instruction, Bryson reacts largely through body language, in a way that communicates both vulnerability and tenacity.
The play begins with a dialogue between herself and her bladder, and she plays both roles! Later there's a scene where diapers are anthropomorphized into a troop of soldiers. Narrative strategies like these tell us that Bryson has spent a whole lot of time on a problem that really shouldn't cause that much grief. She's squeezed these lemons hard to contrive lemonade. (Oh, and this play doesn't shy away from the obvious pun!)
One of the things I like about the Bedwetter is Bryson's generosity to friends and family, which is all too rare in confessional theatre. She speaks fondly of their parents and stresses the fact that her parent's divorce didn't exacerbate the problem, and we sense they did their best for her through the ordeal.
Bryson did nothing to deserve the problem, but she knows it's no one else's responsibility to fix. And she acknowledges that despite and mockery of bedwetting by mass media and the ineffectiveness of the medical strategies offered to her, more people are supportive than hurtful.
I suspect that like many medical problems that are widespread yet generally undiscussed, her play will be a comfort to others who experience bedwetting or have in the past.
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