Friday, 11 August 2017

SummerWorks 17 Reviews: DIVINE, SPAWN

DIVINE 
Written by Natalie Frijia, 
Directed by Claire Burns
Program DescriptionOntario is out of water and a pair of bandits search for their last hope – a water diviner by the name of Penn. Stories say she can crack the world like a coconut and make water bubble to the surface with nothing but her hands. But the bandits aren’t the only ones hunting her down. nithungAnd what if there’s nothing left for Penn to divine?


My Thoughts: Amanda Cordner (Penn) has a self-assured stage presence that commands attention. That's what makes a great lead, but, even if she was playing a supporting character, your eye would still follow her, she's that captivating. Unfortunately, not even Cordner's talents can save this mess. The convoluted plot is compounded by affected Western accents that are often difficult to understand, resulting in a loss of thematic focus.  The acting ranges from excessively broad to stilted, and some of the  extraneous "bandits" contribute nothing to the story. What should have been an intriguing dystopian tall tale, instead becomes a comedy as dry as the deserts referred to in the play itself. 

REMAINING PERFORMANCES
Factory Theatre Mainspace
125 Bathurst Street
Saturday August 12th 7:00pm - 8:15pm
Sunday August 13th1:30pm - 2:45pm

SPAWN
Written by Cheyenne Scott
Directed by Gein Wong
Program Description: Theresa is haunted by the traditional Coast Salish story of the Salmon Spirit, and the death of her mother who drowned in the Pacific Ocean. Now that she’s pregnant, her disconnected family must prepare for a new generation.

My ThoughtsI enjoyed watching this young couple deal with an unexpected pregnancy and their need to create a family, something neither really had for various reasons. The production design, with natural wood as a stand-in for furniture and riverbanks, cascading blue fabric to simulate water, and the background projection of nature all work with the metaphor of spawning.  The inclusion of indigenous folktales and historic truths grounds the work, reinforcing what the young couple must build upon and struggle against as they create their new family. 

It may seem strange to say that a cast of 4 is too large, but in the case of SPAWN, I believe the story would have been more compelling if focussed on the two young leads (Samantha Brown as Theresa and Dillan Meighan-Chiblow as Mikey).  Yes, the main plot surrounds Theresa and her relationship with her father and estranged grandmother, but I found those characters slowed the pace of the action; their contribution could have been summed up through dialogue between the young couple, and an expanded role for the charismatic, Meighan-Chiblow.


REMAINING PERFORMANCES
Factory Theatre Mainspace
125 Bathurst Street

Saturday August 12th 9:30pm - 10:30pm
Sunday August 13th 3:45pm - 4:45pm

Tickets: (general admission $15) Complete details: http://summerworks.ca/tickets 
Photos courtesy of www.summerworks.ca




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