Georama (written by Jackie Torrens) is about two lifelong friends whose relationship is threatened by a recent discovery of their past. The show is presented by the Toronto Fringe Festival, produced by Invincible Emu and Empty Sea Company, and directed by Arne MacPherson.
Hal and Sal are two vastly different people with similarly different upbringings. Despite it all, they’ve remained friends for decades.
We learn that their meeting taking place on stage is to discuss something that will alter, and possibly end their friendship.
Overall, I really liked this piece. I thought that some really interesting ideas were fleshed out in Hal and Sal’s conversation, primarily in regards to nature vs. nurture, or equality at birth vs. equity of opportunities given.
One thing that left me pondering after the show was over was — why address the audience in the first place?
According to Hal and Sal, the role of the audience is to serve as some kind of a mediator while they have this conversation. I didn’t think we were actually needed for this.
The two friends are actually quite good at moderating their own conversation and taking care of each other. At times I felt like I was intruding on an intimate conversation.
If I could offer one other critique of Georama, it would be that the story tended to move along a little slowly.
Throughout the play, the two characters maintain that the story they unravel is a hypothetical one for the sake of objective debate; I was most engaged when they violently broke down this pretense.
This all being said, I realize my issues are with the script rather than the final product that I saw. I actually still like Torrens’ play.
I get the impression that this is something of a passion project for cast members Kevin P. Gabel and Mandi Maxwell, and I think the passion really works in this piece.
At the end of the show both actors were quite emotional. During their curtain call thanks and recommendations, one actor had a difficult time speaking and joked about being on the verge of tears.
The two actors co-produced this show, and they’re the only two members with bios on the Invincible Emu website (Maxwell is the founder, Gabel a partner). I can only assume that the two are friends in real life, or at least close colleagues.
In their performance, I sensed a very genuine connection. They seemed to be drawing from real love, hurt feelings, and moments of vulnerability.
If all this is the case, I think that it’s great that these two artists found a (relatively) new Canadian piece that spoke to them, and that they could really tap into.
The reason why I’m going on and on about this is because I’ve seen plenty of Fringe shows written, directed, produced, and sometimes starring the same person or small group of people, yielding some not-so-great results.
Without knowing what their creative process was, it seems as though Maxwell and Gabel found a highly capable director in Arne MacPherson who was able to help effectively channel their passion for this piece.
I think that this small team has managed to walk the really difficult line of creating a piece that speaks to them while maintaining the right amount of distance from it.
- Georama plays at the Factory Studio. (125 Bathurst street)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor 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. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
July 05 at 01:15 PM
July 07 at 04:45 PM
July 08 at 09:15 PM
July 09 at 05:15 PM
July 10 at 07:30 PM
July 11 at 11:00 PM
Photo of Kevin P. Gabel and Mandi Maxwell by Katelyn Giesbrecht