Review: My Co-Mates and Brothers in Exile (Shakespeare in the Ruff)

IMG_0729“Charming and fun” immersive play engrosses children, adults alike in Toronto

Let me be very honest. When I was making the trek from the Ossington strip to North York to watch Shakespeare in the Ruff‘s production My Co-Mates and Brothers in Exile, created and directed by Eva Barrie, I wasn’t too excited about hanging out in the park. I’m a little embarrassed to admit (but not embarrassed enough to deny it to the public) but the thought of “Ugh, walking the entire time? Really?” did cross my mind when waiting for the show to start. As much as I love watching a good show, I also love sitting in a comfortable chair with a beer in hand.

While walking to the first location, as instructed, my feet dragged. I was acting more like a child than the 7-year-olds surrounding me! But that all changed as I walked into the first scene of this site-specific performance.

We’re led into a small patch of forest hidden from the pedestrian walkway, and what guides us aren’t other people but five performers singing. Just like that, we’re all enchanted — as Prince Charming was to Snow White. As the song ends, the story unravels and we learn that following the death of her mother, Sappho is forced to leave her war-torn country in hopes to build a new life in Canada.

Sounds tragic, but it’s not as sad as you think. The show uses music and creates comical characters that are hilarious and captivating to watch. The text of poets and Shakespeare doesn’t dwindle the humour in the show. I applaud Eva Barrie for using such texts in a refreshing way. The audience members were mostly young children who still seemed to understand the significance of the text in the context that it was given.

And if you are a Shakespeare geek, there is something about hearing a girl cry over immigration papers while reciting a monologue from Two Gentlemen of Verona that will make you giggle.

In a show about a girl trying to find where she belongs, walking around a park begins to make a lot of sense. Being guided from one location to another by music or sometimes a character created unity. The audience became acquainted with one another, and we began to attract more people along the way.

A rendition of a fairytale held a lot of importance for the community. Many families come to Canada trying to find home and are still left feeling like they might not belong. This piece tells kids and adults alike that they do and that differences is what makes a community stronger. It welcomed the audience in hopes that the audience would go out and welcome others into their lives.

As we watched the final scene of the show, a curious child runs up to the stage from far away to see what’s going on. Something that would be scolded normally in a performance was welcomed and we all laughed, and hoped the child would join in.

All in all, I was as immersed in the performance as the children. It was a pleasant surprise to be captivated by such a charming and fun show as this.

Details:

  • My Co-Mates and Brothers in Exile is playing until June 26, 2016 at Walter Saunders Park (426 Hopewell Ave).
  • Shows play at 7:30 pm and meet at the basketball court.
  • The show is free of charge, with tickets available on-site.
  • Appropriate for all ages.
  • 70 minutes with no intermission.

Photo of creator and director, Eva Barrie, provided by the company.