Kaspar & the Sea of Houses (twinwerks // zwillingswerk) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Kaspar & the Sea of Houses is the story of three over-worked Children’s Aid workers. It is a challenging SummerWorks play that deals with many provocative issues.

The play was written in German by Felicia Zeller as a response to the discovery of a two-year old boy’s body in his stepfather’s fridge. Child Welfare workers had been monitoring the situation which became known as the “Kevin case”.

One has to admire Brigit Schreyer Duarte’s translation of unconventional language. The truncated sentences and repetition reminds me of William Burroughs’ “cut-up technique”. It also reminds me of tape loops and soundscapes used by music artists such as Public Enemy and Negativland.

Duarte also co-directed Kaspar & the Sea of Houses with David Jansen. As a result, this challenging play is coherent and enjoyable, the “vision” clear.

The set is highly effective. There are four ironing boards onstage and the actors do laundry endlessly. We can all relate to that, laundry never ends and is often overwhelming. It really helps us understand how overwhelmed the Aid workers are.

One ironing board is vacant, as Aid worker Bjorn is absent, apparently burnt out and on stress leave. Sylvia (Ese Atawo), Anika (Miranda Calderon) and Barbara (Jacklyn Francis) work, or at least attempt to, at the other three.

All three women do a great job conveying the impossible conditions of their workplace. Their jobs and personal life intertwine, creating a toxic, almost lethal cocktail.  They create their office as well as, well, the TV show The Office.

Jacklyn Francis is extraordinary and mesmerizing. She is exceptional. She makes Barbara complicated and seductive. She is charismatic doesn’t seem to be acting at all. If you don’t like The Jays or even baseball, you have to admire a player like Jose Bautista. Francis is a pleasure to watch in the same way.

Really, the only thing I disliked about this play was that it had to end. I highly recommend it.


Kaspar & the Sea of Houses is playing at Lower Ossington Theatre, 100A Ossington Avenue (north of Queen)

Thursday August 4th 4:30 PM
Saturday August 6th 7:00 PM
Monday August 8th 7:00 PM
Wednesday August 10th  4:30 PM
Saturday August 13th  2:00 PM
Sunday August 14th 4:30 PM

– All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.artsboxoffice.ca, by phone at 416.504.7529, in person at the Arts Box Office (located at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., One block North East of Bathurst & Queen W. M-F 12PM-7PM, Weekends 10AM-8PM) (Advance tickets are $15 +HST and $1 service fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows