YOU ARE HERE, at Voltaire. In less confident hands, You Are Here could have been yet another how-I-recovered-from-X testimonial. Writer-actor Judith Harding’s piece is distinguished partly by its kinetic sensitivity–her almost constant movement is closely integrated with the text–and partly by her clean, straightforward narrative laced with a dry, dispassionate humor: she never indulges in the pleas for audience sympathy so characteristic of the genre.

But what most of all separates Harding’s piece from the rest is how little of it is consumed by lurid, graphic descriptions of madness and abstract anthems to revived self-esteem. Instead Harding begins the story well before she gives the diagnosis, recounting the character’s acclimation to her frightening hallucinations–“I can live with that” is her cheerful motto. By the time she gets to the inevitable sinking-and-swimming speech, we’ve come to like and respect this brave woman who’s honest enough to admit that she’ll miss the company of her voices–especially the Venus Di Milo’s, who in contrast to a series of harshly judgmental males offers unconditional love. Under the direction of Lauri Macklin, You Are Here marks the welcome debut of a fresh, original performer reminiscent of Paula Killen at her best. We can live with that.

–Mary Shen Barnidge