By Adelina Fabiano
A Brilliant and Inspiring Solo Production at the Toronto Fringe
For seven year old Sherita Johnson, growing up in the Bronx, with an absent father and an ill mother, life is not easy. It can be tumultuous and unpredictable. Unfortunately, going to school, a “home away from home,” isn’t any easier.
In Recess, a multi-media, high energy one-woman show, the phenomenally talented Una Aya Osato honestly portrays a group of marginalized 7 year old kids making their way through the New York inner city public school system. Una Aya Osato brilliantly plays every child including her self-involved school teacher Ms. White. My most memorable character was Henry- tough, vulnerable and amusing!
This is by far, a highlight of all Fringe shows I’ve seen. From her strong physicality to her distinctive voices, Una’s portrayal of each character is specific and detailed. She flawlessly transitions from role to role, depicting and contrasting each child with the truth, hope and integrity they possess. She gives her classmates, and all the children out there, an opportunity to be heard and not just seen.
Despite a child’s sometimes imperfect circumstances, despite the injustices that surround them, they are asked to be strong and courageous, often having to draw on their survival instincts. Sherita, Una’s protagonist of the piece, powerfully and poignantly does just this.
The dialogue of pre-recorded videos of Una’s character’s conversing with their teacher was impeccably timed. The writing was current and relevant. As a school teacher who works with children and youth daily, I witness first hand the need for children to be heard, to think critically and to prepare themselves for an ever-changing world. It is through their strength and understanding of the world, that my students have been my greatest teachers.
Definitely a tear jerker, Recess, beautifully written by the actor herself, and directed by Moises Belizario, is a must-see at Fringe. I can guarantee you’ll laugh too. You don’t need an opulent theatre space and set design to see great theatre. It is right here in front of us: a young talented woman, wearing a simple black hooded sweatshirt and a stool.
Inspiring audiences, Recess is a show you must put on the top of your list. What are you doing still reading? Get out there before the bell rings!
–Recess is playing at the St. Vladimir’s Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue) for the Toronto Fringe Festival from July 2nd-July 11th.
-Performances will take place on Fri. July 2 at 3:30pm, Sat. July 3 at 4:00pm, Sun. July 4th at 7:30pm, Mon. July 5th at 6:30pm, Wed. July 7th at 11:15pm, Fri. July 9th at 9:45pm, and Sun. July 11 at 2:45pm.
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
Photograph of Una Aya Osato playing Sherita taken by Lauren Faylon