Review: Head à Tête (Theatre Direct)

By Adelina Fabiano

Toronto children’s play Head à Tête delivers universal message

I count myself very lucky as in my profession (a school teacher) I get to see many theatre productions geared towards children. Whether I take my students to the show, or the production comes to us with touring groups, each show usually promises to offer some sort of educational or life lesson.

Head à Tête, is produced by Theatre Direct in the beautifully designed venue of Wychwood Barns. Written by pioneer children’s playwright David S. Craig and Robert Morgan, it is a heart-warming play and commentary about man’s tendencies towards conflict and greed versus our innate desire for compassion, hope, and friendship.

Although complex in theme and concept, Head à Tête manages to convey, in a simple and child-like way, the overwhelming problems and injustices confronting our world today. With powerful physical performances, and visually creative and engaging design, this play is truly a unique children’s play in both performance and creation.

As I enter Theatre Direct’s initimate space, with comfortable booth-like seating, I am drawn to the children eagerly anticipating the start of the show as they sit impatiently on floor-cushions, which give them a closer look.

The show begins with the whimsical-looking character of “Moitié” played by the talented Michelle Polak. Scurrying onto the stage in an interesting and innovative box structure, known as his home, Moitié, a French speaking character, finds himself in an uninhabited area with only a fruit tree in sight.

Moments later, the character of “Please” appears holding a red quilted blanket, dressed in similar quirky-looking apparel. The English-speaking “Please,” carrying around her inseparable doll, is played by the equally talented Sharmilla Dey.

Each character feels frustrated, frightened and alienated from the other as they struggle to adapt to their environment, communicate, set boundaries, and share their one precious resource: the magical fruit tree.

Polak and Dey are energetic, charming and captivating as each of their characters communicate through sounds, actions and gestures. It is only when their greed and aggression get the better of them, destroying their last piece of “fruit” that they realize that in order to restore peace and find safety, they must learn to listen, build trust, share and empathize with one another.

Thomas Morgan Jone’s direction finds a fine balance between free, fun and playful with just the right amount of precision, as each of the characters’ physical movements add to another piece of the story.

Set and costume design created by Lindsay Anne Black captured the overall magic and spirit of the show with her colourful, ingenious set-pieces. The children in the audience were spellbound by the enchanting fruit tree, which was quite evident during the Q & A session at the end of the show.

Debashis Sinha’s original music incorporated a fusion of earthy, tribal-like sounds. It was highly effective and I was hoping to hear more of it!

Head à Tête is an inspiring production with a universal message that resounds for all of us. If only the rest of the world would listen! What a great activity to do with your children during March break! It is not only visually entertaining and humorous, but will give your children something to ponder and talk about with you long after the show.

Details

Head à Tête produced by Theatre Direct will be playing at the Wychwood Theatre ( Artscape Wychwood Barns) at 601 Christie Street.

-The show will be playing from March 14-Marc 19th daily at 11am and 2pm.

-Tickets range from $10-$15. To purchase tickets please visit www.theatredirect.ca or call 416-537-4191.

-Following the show, children can enjoy Theatre Direct’s “Toy Box”, an interactive theatre space complete with projection labs, green screens, sound mixers, building blocks, crafts and costumes designed by award-winning artists Beth Kates and Ben Chaisson.

Photograph of Michelle Polak and Sharmilla Dey taken by Gregory Edwards