A play about gun violence in Toronto is now more than timely. But Aneemah’s Spot, produced by MotionLive and Cric Crac Collective for this year’s SummerWorks festival, elevates the discussion of this hot button issue beyond mere polemics. Through the eyes of two vivid characters, it looks at the complicated ways that art and love stay afloat in the wake of tragedy.
Aneemah’s quiet reflections on the murder of a friend are suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Wan, a tough, shifty emcee with whom she shares a complicated past. Wan has fled their friend’s funeral – “eyes I don’t recognize, cars I’ve never seen before, passing slow” – for the safety of Aneemah’s apartment. Hardly the ideal houseguest, Wan challenges Aneemah’s understanding of their friend’s murder – and she challenges him back.
This play is all about its characters, and the actors don’t disappoint. Amanda Parris has mastered a range of conflicting emotions, hinting at a fragility behind Aneemah’s air of confidence. Araya Mengesha infuses Wan’s rap style with apprehension and uncertainty, trailing off mid-rhyme, shaking his head in disbelief at the violence his character once so casually alluded to.
MotionLive and Cric Crac Collective push the play’s mood of regret even further. Aneemah’s Spot is filled with music (you can even download the mix tape by DJ L’Oqenz) and dialogue and debate between Aneemah and Wan slips back and forth between poetry and prose, uplifting at times and haunting at others.
Emotions in the play move between high and low. While it isn’t a comedy per se, Mengesha and Parris riff off each other to often hilarious effect, adding lightness to a heavy subject. But fear lingers ever-present in the air: fear of violence and retaliation, fear of wounds more subtle and enduring, and ultimately a fear of danger intruding into even the most intimate spaces.
Aneemah’s Spot could have been preachy and over-the-top, something that says too much about the politics of gun violence and nothing about the people it effects. Instead it is a simple, honest play about two such people. It demonstrates, for anyone who cares to see, just how much two human beings can say when they’re given the the space to say it.
- Aneemah’s Spot plays at Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)
- Show times: Thur. August 9, 5:00 PM, Sat. August 11, 12:00 PM, Sun. August 12, 5:00 PM, Tue. August 14, 7:30 PM, Thur. August 16, 10:00 PM, Sat. August 18, 5:00 PM
- All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at http://ticketwise.ca, By phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747, in person at the Lower Ossington Box Office (located at 100A Ossington Avenue) Mon. – Sun. 12PM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows