If the terms “going clear”, “thetans, “suppressive persons” and “dianetics” are familiar to you, then you’re either a Scientologist or you’re someone who has a curious interest in the religion and you’ve probably watched the whole gamut of Scientology documentaries out there. For those of you that fall into the latter category, then this is the Fringe show for you!
Squeeze My Cans is the one-woman show from US playwright and performer Cathy Schenkelberg. It tells the story of her twenty years within Scientology, and the copious dollars spent in her quest to achieve OT [Operating Thetan] status, as well as her eventual exodus from the religion.
Schenkelberg is mesmerising in her delivery. The way in which she engaged the audience for the seventy minute running time was a testament to her talents as an actor. She shifts seamlessly from the intensity of auditing scenes, to re-enactments of her past memories. The cyclical nature of her narrative is evident; she begins by reminiscing about childhood outings with her father, and concludes with the trauma of his passing; particularly haunting as Schenkelberg reflects on the years lost due to her involvement in Scientology. It is clear that she was visibly moved at the end of the performance, indicative of the raw emotion from which her story was shared.
In the latter half of her performance, there is a manic hysteria that Schenkelberg exudes, which, at times, can be difficult to follow. That change in tone, however, captures the broader insanity that she felt in the midst of that world; a world in which she had invested her time, her money and her life… and a world which no longer made sense to her.
Squeeze My Cans is a story of survival, but it is also a rare, unadulterated insight into the life of a Scientologist. In a sphere so shrouded in mystery, Schenkelberg’s account is simply fascinating and a must for anyone who is desperate to know what it’s truly like on the inside.
Squeeze My Cans is playing at Tandanya until March 10th. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
By Rachel Gould