As part of the Sears Ontario Drama Festival, one play written by a student is selected to be workshopped and given a staged reading with professional actors and director. This year’s winner, Callum Hutchinson’s politically charged Fighting with Monsters, is playing the Factory Theatre Rehearsal Hall as part of the 2015 Toronto SummerWorks Festival.
There’s a saying that if you stare long enough into the abyss the abyss stares back into you. Following a revolution in a world that closely mirrors our own, Fighting with Monsters is keen to examine the rise and fall of regimes and how easily power corrupts.
I’m always very happy to see young artists questioning ideas of power and government. These are important subjects for the emerging theatre generation. That said, I think sometimes big ideas are difficult to distill into a forty-five minute play. Though I applaud the ambition behind the story, I thought Fighting with Monsters suffered from its emphasis on grand political ideas and philosophy above all else.
Overall, the play could easily scale back some superfluous scenes and characters to create a tighter, more poignant and focused commentary.
For example, there’s a scene where two members of the former ruling class discuss murdering the new leaders. One of the characters, a former Magistrate, had experienced a personal loss in an earlier scene, but the teenager she’s speaking to in the scene doesn’t seem to exist for any other purpose than to disagree. With so many recurring characters directly affected by the Magistrate, I thought hearing from those at the heart of the narrative might have added more emotional weight to the scene.
Among the extensive politics, director Jajube Mandiela still manages to slow everything down at times for some much needed character beats. Her work with the text has effectively isolated some of the better moments.
Fighting with Monsters is a young voice that’s still finding its footing. At the same time, it’s clear that Hutchinson has something to say.
- Friday August 7th 3:00pm
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at summerworks.ca, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo of Factory Theatre sign