All Our Yesterdays is an intense drama by Chloe Hung that draws from the infamous April 2014 mass abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria. Currently being staged at the Factory Theatre Studio as part of the Toronto Fringe, All Our Yesterdays gives its audience every reason to care about these victims and their hell on Earth.
The constrained world of All Our Yesterdays, made famous by the Twitter hashtag #bringbackourgirls is the one now shared by sisters Ladi (Amanda Weise) and Hasana (Chiamaka Umeh). Ladi, an ambitious young 18-year-old woman, hopes to graduate and go on to study abroad, while her younger sister Hasana has not been so fortunate, her obvious intelligence hindered by the fact that Hasana has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. Both have been taken captive regardless, trapped in a claustrophobic mud hut by their captors. Neither have seen signs of anyone coming to free them. Both know that this cannot last much longer.
The well-constructed script, ably produced on a minimalist stage, would be nothing if Ladi and Hasana could not be brought to life. Happily, they are. Weise and Umeh are superb actors, taking All Our Yesterdays to heights of emotion. Weise, in flashbacks to a happier past at home and in the dire present, does a very good job portraying a good person caught in impossible situations, who has a sister she loves but also resents and an impending future that fills her with horror. I could not help but empathize with this trapped character.
Umeh, meanwhile, brings Hasana to full life, evoking with her very physical delivery a young woman whose acute mind and distinct position as an outsider gives her credibility as a critic. The actor does a superb job of portraying someone whose ruthless honesty extends to the sister she loves and to herself, carrying herself on the stage with admirable precision as she marks things out. “Facts are special,” Hasana says at one point to her sister; so is this character, and so is the actor. Umeh’s portrayal of Hasana gives this relationship a unique character, making it a very real anchor for All Our Yesterdays as it too-plausibly careens towards a shocking ending.
All Our Yesterdays is important. Showing how the horrors of the real world can affect two people caught up in them, this is a drama that is both an artistic success and important for the world. On all these grounds, this performance of All Our Yesterdays is a must-see.
- All Our Yesterdays is playing until July 12 at the Factory Studio Theatre. (125 Bathurst Street.)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor St. West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Remaining show times
July 05 at 08:15 PM
July 06 at 10:00 PM
July 08 at 04:00 PM
July 09 at 01:45 PM
July 11 at 09:15 PM
July 12 at 12:00 PM
Photo of Chiamaka Umeh and Amanda Weise by Anthony Saleh.