Created by Why Not Theatre, The RISER Project is a new initiative that pairs established companies with emerging artists to share resources and make producing indie theatre just a little bit easier. The inaugural RISER season is taking place at The Theatre Centre with two shows already wrapped and another two currently on stage.

There are two Adam Paolozzas in this autobiographical solo show. The first is an approachable everyguy who wanders in from the back of the house and offers everybody coffee. This guy plays the guitar and talks about family road trips and pretends to need help remembering pop culture references so the audience can feel involved. Then there’s Adam the mime, the lauded avant-garde theatre creator who trained at the Jacques Lecoq school and has a whole commedia dell’arte act prepared complete with mask and collar (compared to the hipster plaid worn by Adam the everyguy). In real life, these two facets of one man clearly are able to live in harmony but on stage they are held together by the fairly tenuous link of “I was just talking about my Italian grandfather, doesn’t this classic commedia mask resemble my grandfather?” (obviously not an actual quote). Adam the everyguy’s one-man storytelling show about his Italian heritage is a lovely, low-key piece about family and tradition delivered by an incredibly engaging performer. Adam the mime’s exploration of commedia dell’ arte using a single archetype in conversation with a contemporary audience is a far bolder show, less relatable and emotionally rewarding but inventive in a really valuable way. I’m not quite convinced that the amalgamation of these things in Paolozzapedia is as successful as it is in Paolozza.

The middle of May is insane with theatre so I unfortunately was only able to see Paolozzapedia at a rare performance not scheduled in tandem with the final RISER show, Mahmoud. I did, however, review Mahmoud when it played the Toronto Fringe back in 2012. You can read that review HERE.