By Amber Landgraff
The thing about Fringe shows is that often you find yourself picking shows to see based on short descriptions. These descriptions of course can never do justice to the intricacies and layers that are possible in a show. I have to admit that the description of Raven for a Lark, presented by quoi quoi quoi, had me picturing a very different play than the one that I experienced this afternoon.
The description of the play stated two actors are sucked into the twisted world of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy. I have to admit I was imagining a play where two actors were physically sucked into the world of the play. Perhaps it was the use of the words darkly funny that had me picturing such a wacky scenario.
Instead the play offers a psychological glimpse behind the curtain of a production of Titus Andronicus. Charlie and Nina both play small but significant roles in the production. Raven for a Lark focuses on Charlie and Nina telling the audience about the strange things that they do to help themselves get into character.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the gruesomeness of Titus Andronicus the main plot point that is focused on in Raven for a Lark involves the rape and mutilation of Lavinia by Chiron.
I’ll warn you now, Charlie and Nina’s commitment to their roles quickly turns from funny to disturbing. When the play is described as darkly funny they really mean dark. There were moments when I found myself laughing at things that shouldn’t have been funny, and then there were moments where my laughter became uncomfortable.
At the end of the performance another audience member and I had a conversation about Adam Bradley’s performance as Charlie. We both decided he was really strong in the role because we both disliked him so intensely by the end of the show. There is a fine line when dealing with heavy subject matter that paints a character in a bad light. It is hard to manage while not resorting to one-dimensional tropes, and Bradley manages the subtleties well.
I have to admit that I left the theatre feeling disturbed. This is of course a mark of a good drama, I just wish someone had warned me in advance that what I was expecting from the show was not what I was going to get.
Raven For a Lark Venue 3 Royal St. George’s Auditorium
Fri, July 2 9:15 PM
Sat, July 3 4:00 PM
Sun, July 4 5:45 PM
Tue, July 6 1:00 PM
Wed, July 7 11:15 PM
Fri, July 9 9:45 PM
Sun, July 11 2:45 PM
– 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
– Photo of Adam Bradley and Shelley Liebembuk by Elise Newman