In today’s interconnected world, communication is a predominant theme throughout our lives. Whether it’s how we talk about ourselves, how we interact with each other or simply our medium of doing so, communication dominates our modern discourse. This is the August is a play that explores this complicated topic, along with things like gender identity, the growing divide between 2nd and 3rd Wave feminism and the exploitative nature of art itself. A heady addition to Toronto’s 2016 Summerworks Festival.
The play focuses on three people; Edie, a YouTube vlogger who has begun to go Viral, her professor/girlfriend Bea who finds her acclaimed documentarian career struggling in the modern social media-dominated culture and Sam, Bea’s child and a multimedia artist developing their own career outside of the mass market.
Much of the piece is built around the debate between the three and how they view their own forms of expression as well as each others’. The three performers do a good job portraying their views and characters and it’s clear they have put a lot of work into making sure they believe their own characters. I did find some of the conflict scenes didn’t reach the emotional highs that the text seemed to demand, but everyone definitely stepped up to the plate when it counted during the climax.
Allie Marshall deserves a shout out for the set design; as with many festival pieces it’s barebones but very functional with every piece of the set having a purpose and identity that gave weight to scenes that interacted with them. I especially liked the large canvass piece at center stage that Sam uses during their multimedia performance; it was neat experiencing their art simultaneously with the characters and getting a sense of Sam’s creative process.
That being said, I did feel disappointed that while we got to watch both Sam and Edie developing their art, the closest thing we saw from Bea was an anti-millennial rant as part of a crowd funding attempt for an unrelated documentary. Admittedly it makes sense for the narrative and even the character, but I would have liked to see Bea get a showcase of her own work at its best in the same vein the other characters did.
This is the August is a challenging play and one that asks more questions than it answers but strong performances and a creative vision that ties it together makes it a complicated but satisfying addition to the Summerworks Festival.
This is the August plays at the Theatre Centre BMO Incubator (1115 Queen Street W)
- Thursday, August 4th, 8:45 – 10:00 PM
- Saturday, August 6th, 12:00 – 1:15 PM
- Sunday, August 7th, 8:00 – 9:15 PM
- Tuesday, August 9th, 9:15 – 10:30 PM
- Thursday, August 11th, 6:45 – 8:00 PM
- Saturday, August 13th, 5:30 – 6:45 PM
- Sunday, August 14th, 12:00 – 1:15 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, By phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the 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 courtesy of the company