Review: People4Change (lemonTree creations & TheThem)

There are thousands of names in the phonebook. How many of those people would be willing to donate to a good cause? This is the premise for People4Change, a play that follows three young people – Dale (Colin Edwards), Lisa (Alisha Stranges) and Jaelene (Marissa Zinni) who team up to make a difference in the world after witnessing a death on the subway tracks, and whose efforts to collect money over the phone for charity change all of their lives in drastic ways. People4Change is playing in the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace until September 24th.

People4Change tells a linear story; however, it is interspersed with bouts of vaguely expressionistic movement and song. They sing phonebook entries in rounds, they re-enact the death on the subway in mime, both forward and in reverse, and recite monologues all at the same time. There are dream sequences and flashbacks that serve the plot but are done in an interpretive way, which is something that may not be for everyone. In general, it is the kind of thing that gets a bit too artsy for my blood, but I can nonetheless appreciate when a show is done well.

And indeed, the show is performed very well. All of the characters are interesting and it is entertaining to watch how each of them turns out after their shared traumatic experience. Each has a drastically different path towards helping humanity, and each struggles with their own intimacy problems. People4Change is as much three different stories as it is one, and all three are engaging.

I believe that People4Change’s weak point is its length. The play is quite long given the subject matter. I do not believe that enough happens in the show to justify the two-hour running time. Some of the material could probably be cut while still making the same points. However, as I have noted that this style of show really isn’t my thing – that could explain why I was taking note of the time.

Overall, despite my feelings towards some of the more artsy choices, People4Change is a solid show. It’s a combination of good acting, a unique story and daring, if not always successful, dramatic techniques.

People4Change is playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Ave.
– September 14- September 24, 2011 with performances on Tuesday – Saturday 7.30 pm, and PWYC Saturdays at 2 pm.
– Tickets are available at or by calling 416.504.7529.
– Tickets are $20 + HST, and Senior/Student/Arts Worker prices are $15 +HST.

Photo credit: Photo of Colin Edwards, Alisha Stranges and Marissa Zinni.