My Theatre

01 July 2016

Toronto Fringe ’16: Part IV

By // Theatre (Toronto)

jamee_valin_dance_shotBe sure to check out our Full List of Fringe Reviews

(Un)Boxed (A)
(Un)Boxed is a series of dance pieces exploring the themes of conformity, isolation and exclusion. These pieces are linked with an Alice Through The Looking Glass-type character who interacts and observes the dances and gives the show a dystopian quality. We visit all the quirky and troubled characters you might imagine in a modern Lewis Carroll novel with a sombre and moving result. There is some Beyonce, a lost woman, a conforming marionette, a 1950s dance tutorial, a woman slowly and painfully being confined. A masked character (the only male) sets the stage up, throws props on as if commanding what comes next and controls the strings of our puppet from above. He is a disturbing figure and creates a sense of an over-powering dictator or force, probably the cause of the women’s suffering. This show oozes talent from the choreography to the dancers. Every performer and piece brings a different energy to the stage that keeps (Un)Boxed engaging throughout.

Dario Et La Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical (D)
The premise of this show has merit and one I can get behind: to retell a Caribbean folk tale and keep it alive. The show mostly succeeds in this however there were a few plot points that were lost in the fray due to low vocal volume, stage hubbub and poor lighting. This audience member completely missed that our lead character’s foot had turned into a hoof and have only learnt this in my outside reading. The music is great however the band is positioned in front of the stage so a lot of the time the music drowns out the un-mic’d singers. It is too long and lacks precision particularly towards the end and a stronger hand at direction could have really helped these young performers out. Everyone sings wonderfully and the cast are having a good time which is infectious. The group scenes are high in energy but it feels very much like a high school play with all the tableaus and theatre gimmicks you could want. There are some troubling ideas in this show that I struggled with. Namely victim blaming and the reinforcing of unhelpful gender stereotypes.

To Jane With Love (D-)
To Jane With Love is a story of a man’s slow recovery from his painful past. This show is very much undercooked. There are a lot of scenes and the transitions are clumsy. The technical cues were painfully slow often leaving everyone plunged into darkness for far too long and only occasionally was there transitional music to help. The cast work hard but the writing and acting is a little obvious for my taste and I found myself ahead of the story and plot points. With a little more time and finesse this could be a good show.

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