If you're looking for an intelligent, exciting and gorgeous piece of theatre in Toronto, you should absolutely make sure you see MT Space's "Body 13" this weekend at Theatre Passes Muraille.
Majdi Bou-Matar has directed the show to perfection. The instant I saw the opening tableau I was captivated and, through the use of intense, extraordinary movement executed by a cast that had the strength and unity of a steel chain, my captivation was kept throughout the piece.
The script managed to present the age old "be true to yourself" message in a new, modern way without sacrificing clarity. Despite approaching old thematic territory, the show absolutely escapes cliche.
First of all, physical movement is an integral and fascinating part of the piece. The sequences performed onstage were so pronounced, so defined that I had visceral reactions to them on more than one occasion.
On top of that, the show interweaves multiple plots. I found that each character shared just enough information about their story to intrigue me without telling me too much to the point of it sounding like something I had heard before. The focus on physicality rather than rhetoric instigated a complete recreation of timeless interracial, intersexual conflicts.
Partner intelligent writing and performance with the impeccable design work that has gone into this show (I can't let myself get away with leaving the live music and sound effects unmentioned. Moreover, if you notice lighting in a show, you won't be able to help but notice the work done here) and I'm excited to insist that it is one of the top pieces of theatre in Toronto this weekend.
Full details on MT Space's website: http://www.mtspace.ca/productions/body-13-toronto-ontario
My first exposure to John Patrick Shanley was in 2006 when I saw "Doubt" on Broadway with Cherry Jones. The show moved me to the point of sending Shanley a shameless email thanking him for his work. From that point forward, I was a convert. I studied his other works of brilliance including "Beggar in a House of Plenty", "The Dreamer Examines his Pillow" and "Kissing Christine".
Shanley has a way of crafting dark humour, draping in metaphor and allowing it to jump off the stage and lead you to a dismal conclusion. Shanley audiences never leave the theatre unaffected.
Last night was no exception. I had the pleasure of watching Bygone Theatre's production of "Doubt" in a capacious ecclesiastical hall at the University of Toronto. Though I don't think Bygone would term this piece a "site-specific", I absolutely did. I felt, the entire time, as though I was sitting in a chapel and, when in Sister Aloysius' office, I literally felt as though I was peering straight through a wall. Emily Dix, up-and-coming Toronto-based stage director, did a fantastic job staging seamless set transitions in order to use the unconventional space to her advantage.
Shanley's scripts are rhetoric-heavy and, at times, hard to perform but the acting in Bygone's production took it to it's best. Though hasty at times last night, the pace of the show was authentic and accompanied by fantastic sound design.
Bygone's production closes tonight at 8 PM at the UC East Hall on University of Toronto campus. For details: http://www.bygonetheatre.com/#!doubt-a-parable/c8d0
For a clip from Broadway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO1KHNw8BwQ