Few people head out to a Mennonite homestead in pursuit of riveting drama. Bear this in mind as you watch Petrichor, staged by Kitchenband at Factory Theatre during SummerWorks, and you’ll do just fine. A unique aesthetic experience that’s more about exploring the rhythms of farm life than the intricacies of its characters, Petrichor delivers on Kitchenband’s promise of stories “inspired by the Canadian landscape and history.”
As with most tales inspired by vast tracts of sparsely populated subarctic shield, Petrichor’s plot unfolds at a glacial pace. Henry, the protagonist, arrives to work on his father’s farm over summer vacation, and falls for Mennonite migrant worker Susan, with whom he went to primary school (Susan, a bright girl, dropped out of school at the behest of a dimwitted patriarch).
Henry plays a mean guitar and eventually uses it to break through Susan’s stoic veneer. But in a land where sexual tension is about as welcome in the air as a whiff of exhaust, this fledgling romance is a big no-no with the family. Luckily for this buttoned-up set, Henry’s character is so relentlessly good-natured, his attraction to Susan so utterly tepid, that he doesn’t provide much in the way of romance for anyone to worry about.
If Petrichor’s narrative is ho-hum, its aesthetics are glorious: scenes are punctuated with fantastically choreographed musical montages as the onstage band marries cinematic scoring with a toe-tapping bluegrass musicality.
Unusual percussion instruments are cleverly hidden in plain sight among a miscellany of farm equipment, and the interaction and overlap between actors and musicians as each song slowly unfolds will probably amount to one of the most fulfilling experiences at SummerWorks this year. While dialogue often falls flat, each member of the cast fully embraces the emotion that underpins the musical scenes.
Whether Petrichor is worth watching is largely a matter of your mood. If you have a short attention span, or just haven’t slept in a while, you might do better with livelier fare. But if you’re looking for a skillful blending of music, theatre, and visual arts, Petrichor is worth checking out. Staged by a multitalented cast and enlivened by great music, Petrichor is akin to stepping into a painting of some forgotten pastoral realm – not the most exciting experience, but certainly a pleasant one.
- Petrichor plays at Factory Theatre Mainspace, 125 Bathurst Street.
- Show times: Fri. August 10, 10:00 PM, Mon. August 13, 10:00 PM, Wed. August 15, 10:00 PM, Fri. August 17, 7:30 PM, Sat. August 18, 12:00 PM, and Sun. August 19, 7:30 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