by Dorianne Emmerton
GIA is a concept piece, complete with modern dance moves, syncopated vocalizations/breathing and lots of abstract pondering. The main idea, which is spoken right away and then expanded on throughout the hour, is that the planet Earth is a conscious living entity (as the title suggests.)
Three women(Anna Wheeler, Eva Barrie, and Marie Franceschini) represent Earth/Gaia – using those dance moves and syncopated sounds I mentioned. Two men round out the cast of characters, one a young astrophysicist who is eager to present the scientific findings supporting Earth-as-living-and-conscious (played by writer and co-director Simon Esler) and the other the older scientist (Barry Birnberg) who led the research program but has now abandoned the project for a more whimsical look at the theory he still believes to be true.
This is all set up immediately and then the debate over the project is interrupted by “Wave One” – which is a dream state that falls over all of humanity as Gaia’s in initial attempt to reconcile with her population of people.
Some aspects of the piece are rather redundant: the conversation between the young astrophysicist and the older scientist that occurs at the beginning is repeated in full later on in the piece, and it felt a little weary to me, as not nearly enough time had passed to forget any line of that dialogue and the movement the play had taken since that point was too abstract to really present the conflict in a different context.
At certain points the message that ‘we are one with the earth’ seemed to be delivered in a rather heavy-handed fashion, but the approach was fresh enough to still be enjoyable. I also would have liked the astrophysicist’s journey to be a bit more nuanced – he spends most of the play in a heightened state of confused frustration – but the Gaia-women provided enough relief that his histrionics never became irritating.
It’s worth seeing just for these amazing glowing bulbs they found or made somehow that are a beautiful representation of both eyes and earth.
If you like high concept theatre, this is a Fringe show for you.
GAIA Venue 1 Tarragon Theatre Mainspace
Thu, July 1 10:30 PM – 106
Sat, July 3 3:30 PM – 115
Sun, July 4 8:15 PM – 124
Mon, July 5 6:15 PM – 129
Tue, July 6 8:45 PM – 136
Fri, July 9 11:00 PM – 158
Sat, July 10 2:15 PM – 160
– 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