Of masks, climate change and tattoos
Reviews of three Frankie Award nominated Fringe plays
By Julia Ainsworth
Written and performed by Joy Ross-Jones and directed by Cristina Cugliandro, this one-woman play explores the lives of Venezuelans caught in the current economic crisis. Ross-Jones uses mask to bring a dynamic cast of characters to life. A former beauty queen exploits her charisma at the food bank. A police officer confesses the personal toll of his work. A wandering vagrant mutters about his lost love. A young man gets swept up in the protest. A grandmother clings to her vestiges of prosperity. A Venezuelan woman watches from Canada.
Director Cristina Cugliandro sets a vigorous pace and ensures strong contrast between the characters. Ross-Jones commits vocally and physically to each character and evokes a heartbreaking portrait of a collapsing society. By avoiding direct political references, Ross-Jones moves her audience with the personal impact of this complex crisis. Liv Wright’s intricate design covers the stage with shoes and hanging flowers, masks and props, conveying an image of life frozen and suspended in time.
Ross-Jones commits vocally and physically to each character and evokes a heartbreaking portrait of a collapsing society.
In the talk back session, creator Joy Ross-Jones says she plans to revisit the piece in the future and expresses a wish that someday this play will become “an archive” of this difficult period.
Elsewhere (Odd Stumble) was nominated for, and won, the Frankie for Most Promising English Company.
A Change in the Weather
Another collaboration by Montreal director Cristina Cugliandro and UK designer Liv Wright, with a multi-talented team of actors, dancers, and musicians. This devised, multidisciplinary creation explores global warming and our individual relationship (or lack thereof) to our environment. Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant serves as source work and cautionary tale retold by the cast in the innovative opening projection sequence.
Through a patchwork of movement, poetry, dance and music, this piece showcases a talented group of artists riffing creatively on the theme and delivering informative data. It also ingeniously sheds light on the gap between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk”. The artists confess their own guilty pleasures (bottled water, driving, travelling) and lame excuses (“my kitchen is too small for recycling”) revealing their own culpability despite their in-depth research of global warming.
This surprising, vulnerable reveal inspired the audience to confess their own guilty habits after the show. Whispers of “me too”, “I’m bad” could be heard exiting the theatre. Of course it begs the question: what will it take to move our selfish, giant collective from knowledge to action?
A Change in the Weather was nominated for the Frankie Mainline Creativity Award.
In the back room of Pompette, Sophie Post Croteau shares moments that marked her: friendships, ex-boyfriends, places that feel like home and the tattoos that iconize her life experiences.
Her personal stories are strung together between “do it yourself” instructions on the craft of tattooing. This performance art-meets-storytelling piece is delivered by Croteau with charm and wit and leaves just the right amount of detail to the imagination (not counting of course the close-up projection of her newest tattoo in the making).
An authentic reflection on personal growth and a unique, engaging theatrical experience you are not likely to forget.
Illustrated Lady was nominated for the Frankie Mainline Creativity Award.
Feature image: courtesy of Odd Stumble
Julia Ainsworth is a Montreal based writer, theatre artist and arts educator. She holds a B.F.A in Theatre from York University and B. Ed from Queens.