Iza The Brave, by Iza’s Productions is playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival as part of FringeKids. It tells the story of Iza (Amaka Umeh) who is afraid to go to bed because of monsters, and her counterpart HariYel (Sarah Marchand ), a monster who would like to live in the clean land of the humans.
Near the top of the show, Iza’s bedtime had me almost in tears of laughter for its reflection of my own life. She needs a story, she needs a hug, her teddy bear needs a hug, she needs milk, all the usual stalling tactics. But then she needs the milk heated up, and she needs honey added to it, and that is my actual life. The kicker was that my son beside me didn’t seem to understand why I was laughing so hard.
Iza’s Dad (Deshay Padayachey) is relatable as a tired parent, and I was pleased to see a non-traditional family structure represented, as there was no mention of a mother. The connection between the two was endearing and Iza’s personality was strong and unique (which may be in part because Iza is based on a real-life child.)
The relationship between HariYel and her mother Momster (Samantha Chaulk) and sisters (Micaela Comeau and Jada Rifkin) is also well-portrayed and brings some poignant laughs.
There were two scenes I didn’t quite understand. In one, Iza’s Dad as a child is nattered at by two French ladies who seem to be caregivers. I would have loved representation of a same sex parenting relationship but as one of my friends pointed out, it was more likely they were supposed to be nannies. Either way, it was hard to understand why the scene was there.
The other was between Iza’s Grandma (Rifkin) and her neighbour who loves exercising (Maïza Dubhé). The Grandma had been mentioned before, but her presence in the play did nothing to move the action along and I found it rather mystifying.
HariYel riding the TTC and Iza doing her best monster impression and bonding with Momster were scenes great enough to balance the confusing two. I’d love to see the company do further work featuring Iza, her Dad and the monsters, with a more refined narrative.
- Iza the Brave plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl)
- Tickets for FringeKids shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $12.
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- The George Ignatieff Theatre is wheelchair-accessible, and has wide aisles for easy mid-show exits.
- Don’t miss the FringeKids club located on the lawn adjacent to the venue! Free activities for children (3-12) and caregivers run every day of the festival: see website for details.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Friday July 1st, 01:45 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 03:45 pm
- Monday July 4th, 10:00 am
- Wednesday July 6th, 01:15 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 04:15 pm
- Friday July 8th, 10:00 am
- Saturday July 9th, 03:00 pm
Photo provided by the company