Thursday, 16 August 2012

SUMMERWORKS REVIEWS: Breathe for Me, FACTS, Violent Be Violet

BREATHE FOR ME
Real Eyes Theatre

REMAINING SHOW
Factory Theatre
Sat. August 18, 7:30 PM
Warning: Mature Language

Breathe for Me is a two-hander starring Deborah Kipp as Edith and Peggy Mahon as Edna, two characters in their seventies who have navigated the long road of friendship, interrupted at times by distance and at one point, prison.  Wheelchair-bound Edna has a respiratory illness and refuses, despite Edith's advice, to go to the doctor. Edith enjoys having her high school friend living with her but abhors her stubbornness. Both women have had a problem with booze, and made decisions that they regretted, but at this stage of their lives it's time to face up to those mistakes and lost opportunities, and Edna especially needs to know the answer to a burning question. Jesse Strong's script brims with the brash honesty and lies of aged friendship, with lines delivered with wonderful comic timing and rock solid seriousness as needed. Edna is the more colourful of the two women in costume (by Dora nomineeNina Owens) and salty dialogue, but Edith, with her bland clothing and tiny gold cross, also gets the opportunity to let loose some zingers of her own. Director, Ed Roy keeps the dialogue flowing at a quick clip, and while there is too much obvious stage left/stage right movement in the first ten or so minutes of the play, the blocking eventually settles into a more naturalistic movements for the characters. Jesse Strong has written a gem of a script, and when you team that with two mighty fine actors in a production lit by three-time Dora Award winner, Kimberly Purtell, you have a winner that audiences can approach, confident that they will be seeing something special.

FACTS
http://factstheplay.ca/

REMAINING SHOWS
Factory Theatre
Fri. August 17, 5:00 PM
Sat. August 18, 2:30 PM
Warning: Gunshot, Mature language

Part detective story, part philosophical treatise, and part moral dilemma, FACTS is a play in which there are no easy answers, set in an area of the world where easy is a cosmic joke. An American archaeologist has been murdered, and it's up to two detectives, one Israeli (played by Richard Greenblatt) and one Palestinian (played by Sam Kalilieh) to find out if the settler (actor, Alex Poch-Goldin) they have tracked down is guilty of the killing. Check points, Arab-Israeli cultural differences, and police procedural are expected in this play set in a politically charged arena, but throw in a question of belief that may or may not have been proven by the dead archaeologist, and you have a story that demands the audience question its own religious stance, be they Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheists. Superb acting by this triumvirate.

VIOLENT BE VIOLET
Fine Wine Theatre Company

REMAINING SHOWS
Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
Fri. August 17, 3:00 PM
Sun. August 19, 10:00 PM

Playwright/actress Tanisha Taitt is the reason to see this play. Her role as Violet calls for emotional extremes that could easily descend into caricature. Directed by Dora Award winner, Philip Aikin, the play deals with mental illness, guilt, and the stresses on a family when they have to be on guard, but ever helpful, to a loved one. Violet is the sole survivor of an incident that resulted in the death of several friends. Her coping mechanisms are her poetry and the sessions she has with her former professor, now a nun named Sister Genevieve (Sarah Dodd). The story unfolds well, with Violet's relationship with her steadfast mother, Yolande (Sandi Ross) being established and the jocular sibling interaction between she and her brother, Amos (Peter Bailey) providing some light moments here and there. Violet's flashes of anger and her suicidal attempts frustrates everyone, but as the play progresses, her memories are gradually unblocked revealing the horror that has been trapped within her for the past fourteen years.

Tanisha's effortless acting makes the other actors seem stage bound. I see Violet (Tanisha) in the kitchen, but I see the others as actors on a set. There is too much gesticulating by Peter Bailey and not enough movement from Sarah Dodd.  Sandi Ross does a good job as the mother, but it is Tanisha that draws your eye every time, and she is what makes this viewing of her first play very worthwhile.

TICKETS
HOW TO BUY ADVANCE TICKETS ($15 + FEES): Advance Tickets are available until midnight the day before and can be purchased as follows:

Online at ticketwise.ca
In person at the Lower Ossington Box Office (located at 100A Ossington Avenue) ($15 + Fees) 11AM – 5PM

By phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747 for tickets & info during the hours listed above.

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