Review: Skirting the Edge (Mysterious Entity Theatre)

Skirting the Edge was performed on June 23rd and June 24th in a re-purposed church on Dufferin, near Dundas. Mysterious Entity Theatre, a company from Peterborough, Ontario, produced the show.

On the night I went to see Skirting the Edge, the air in the theatre was torpid.

Onstage, there were three women, three chairs of varying height, and a big sturdy-looking wooden table.

The night began with “Domestic Bliss” by Martha Cockshurt, performed by Dianne Latchford, and “Hardly Workin’” by Esther Vincent, performed by Kate Story.

Though each is a monologue – Skirting the Edge is billed as “a collection of monologues on the theme of women and mental health” – the other actors stay onstage.

The others move around the speaker in a sort-of stylized way. For example, doing synchronized gestures with their arms. Or, in “Hardly Workin,’” stamping their feet, after a few of Ms. Story’s lines. Bill James is credited with the choreography.

The extras onstage also serve to re-arrange the chairs and table.

The set design, like the choreography, eludes a literal interpretation most of the time. The chairs and table are variously stacked, lined-up, stood on, and (almost, in the case of the smallest chair) tucked away. But – maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention – I didn’t usually catch a correspondence to the text.

The set, to me, was more a representation of the ephemeral mood and feelings of Skirting the Edge. Its design is not credited in the program.

In the third work of the night, titled “Imbalancing Act” by Em Glasspool (also credited as the director) and performed by Melissa Hood, the extras shout out mental health diagnostic terms from time to time. It comes across as a terrifying experience.

Though the work that really got me was Ms. Latchford’s performance in “The Green Spaces” by Kate Story. Ms Latchford portrays a woman attempting to repress another personality inside of her. It’s an ultimately futile effort, but the struggle she puts up trying to hold her character’s composure was pretty mesmerizing. There are moments that brink on something out the movie The Exorcist.

The last two monologues of the night are “I Count” by Susan Newman, performed by Ms. Hood, and “From My Rocking Chair on the Second Floor” by Naumi Parkinson, performed by Ms Story. They cap things in a relatively quiet way, in terms of the language and lead performances. Mr. James’ choreography stays vibrant and expressive though, becoming a bit restless near the very end, before the performers envelope one another.

I’d strongly recommend checking out future productions by Mysterious Entity Theatre. They’ve got a huge amount of talent, and I admire them for taking on such challenging, highly relevant material.