The refreshingly cool – and, I mean that literally – Theatre Passe Muraille is home to Feathers vs. Fauna for its run, as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. A company called The Collection, and Lady Janitor, are producing its performances.
Not long before the show began, I found-out that Feathers vs. Fauna is a movement-based work. So, the first thing I did when I got the program was flip-through for what music would be playing.
Selections include Patsy Cline, Gil Scott-Heron, Phosphorescent, Animal Collective and J. S. Bach amongst others.
The latter particularly caught my attention; another movement-based work recently performed in Toronto, titled Allemande, was set to excerpts of cello suites by Bach. The speed and density of the score apparently gave its choreographer, Josh Beamish, a lot to work with. Allemande was almost like a million-and-one little jolts, twists and other contortions, at a rapid-fire pace.
Feathers vs. Fauna began in silence, with a performer flapping her arms, sort-of. Though, it was like they were made of rubber, so her arms roiled more than tht – say, like a bird.
When the score kicked-in, it came almost like syrup pouring over the stage and performer. I don’t know the composer of the track — either Bach or Mark Motherbaugh, two of the three music credits for this portion of the show, titled Aviary – but, it was luscious, really.
One thing I can be sure of, the opening music wasn’t by Patsy Cline, the third musician credited for Aviary’s score.
About a third of the way through Aviary, a second performer comes on. Together the dancers, Jasmyn Fyffe and Emily Poitier, perch, flip-flop and tumble around, roiling their arms from time-to-time.
Ms. Fyffe and Ms. Poitier, along with Jasmine Graham, are credited with the choreography of Aviary.
When the lights come-up after the music stops, a young woman in, what she refers to as a “uni-suit,” her brown hair cut short, comes onstage. This is Eroca Nichols playing Lady Janitor.
Lady Janitor’s assistants – Maddy Shen, Samantha Madieros, and Kirstie Keenan – reset the stage with, amongst other things, blankets, a tattered projection screen, what looks (and sounds) like a decades old slide projector, and boots with loud snapping buckles. The latter hold Lady Janitor in place as she poses for part of her side-show slide -how.
Dance is more incidental to this work, called, The Deer in Headlights Side-show Slide-show, which weaves together a family history, imagery and even a stunt (Ms. Nichols can fit her fist in her mouth), with occasional movement.
The Deer in Headlights Side-show Slide-show often felt like an inside joke that I wasn’t privy to. Most of the audience seemed to love it, but I just didn’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong, the novelty of Ms. Nichols deer antlers was cute, and I love the idea of representing family as deer. But, underneath the surface representations, The Deer in Headlights Side-show Slide-show seemed to be a fairly complex story of growing-up that jumps from memory to memory so quickly, and introduces so many characters, that I had trouble following the narrative.
All the same, I commend the creativity at play. Everyone on stage, in both Aviary and The Deer in Headlights Side-show Slide-show seems to have a great time onstage.
Director: Jasmine Graham, Eroca Nicols
Choreographer: Jasmine Graham, Eroca Nicols
Genre: Dance, Physical Theatre
Warning: Audience Participation
Venue 10 Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
– Remaining shows include Tue, July 12 2:45 PM, Wed, July 13 4:15 PM, Fri, July 15 12:30 PM, Sat, July 16 8:45 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