By Adam Collier
At the production of El Numero Uno at Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, what I heard people commenting on first was the configuration of the theatre. The stage is at the centre of the space, with seating on all sides.
I also heard people twittering excitedly about Walter Borden and Jajube Mandiela. Reputations aside (it wasn’t until after the show that I found-out the stature of these players) the performances more than speak for themselves.
Save for very likable and engaging Andrew Broderick playing the title role throughout the show, each actor brings at least two characters to life. I found the sheer power and concentration very impressive – particularly the comedic energy of Jamie Robinson as the hard-of-hearing Eddiebeast, and the understated timing of Sabryn Rock as Ma Bessie.
Also impressive was how freely this cast wields the linguistically muscular script by Pam Mordecai. The language is full of texture, with rhyming couplets and a mix of languages including Spanish, French, Creole and English. The texture wasn’t just in the language, it was everywhere in the production,from lighting design by Kimberly Purcell that found a tone of sunshine in-between saffron and red clay, set design by Astrid Janson that presents the eerie appearance of a tropical island trapped in drought, to Cathy Nosaty’s musical direction.
El Numero Uno sets a benchmark for artistic professionalism, offering some of the finest theatrical craftsmanship in Toronto. With wonderful regularity El Numero Uno ascends into a realm of collaborative grace that is hypnotic. Even well into the second hour, the audience was laughing and – in a call-and-response song near the very end – clapping and cheering with the cast.
-Showtimes are Monday and Tuesday at 10:15 and 1:00, Wednesday at 1:00, Thursday and Friday at 10:15 and 1:00, and Sunday at 2:00
-Ticket prices are between $10 and $20
-You can get tickets at the box office or order online by going to http://www.lktyp.ca/
(Photo of: Walter Borden and Andrew Broderick, by Iden Ford Photography)