Origami Airplane (Opus Syndrone) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Origami Airplane reminded me of theatre school, and not just because it was a collective creation with a lot of abstract movement and sound. The whole premise of the piece feels strongly rooted in the theatre school experience: a group of people of different racial, cultural and sexual identities become each others’ family, for a short time at least. So it didn’t surprise me to discover in the program after the show that the company had met each other as classmates at the National Theatre School.

The show is an interpretative exploration of diverse identities and interpersonal relationships, played stylistically in the form of a multi-lingual, multi-racial model of a family. At the beginning, the motley cast plays a hand game that resembles rock-paper-scissors on steroids to “decide” who plays what role: mother, father, brothers and sisters. They introduce themselves to each other using strange gestures instead of words and sit down to a family dinner/origami airplane making session. And then the games begin.

The family makes an over-the-top show of getting along but they cannot get past their differences, and they aren’t afraid to use the the most verboten racial epithets against each other. How can they pretend they are of the same blood when the mother has fits of Hungarian language rants, one of the twin sisters is Japanese with a pronounced accent and at least two of them are at least half black? And what can you even make of the gay brother who takes on a demon’s voice when he wants to make a point?

I was not sure what to make of it much of the time. A lot was far too abstract for me to glean any sense out of, but the physical skill of the performers, the innovative choreography and the joyous feel of the piece kept me entertained anyway. And, despite all the slurs and the antagonism, it did feel joyous. I think this company believes that the benefits of diversity outweigh the difficulty, and I can’t disagree.


– Origami Airplane is playing at The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen Street West

Friday August 5th     7:30 PM
Sunday August 7th     12:00 PM
Monday August 8th     5:00 PM
Wednesday August 10th 10:00 PM
Friday August 12th    7:30 PM
Sunday August 14th    2:30 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