Review: Body 13 (MT Space)

Body on body on Body 13, playing at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

A play like Theatre Passe Muraille‘s Body 13 could easily enter cliché territory. Featuring a cast of characters specifically crafted with the intention to represent multiple cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations, caricature could certainly have been a concern. The show’s premise is to be the meeting place for many different “types” of people.

 Let me tell you: this was not an issue!

In fact, the only character who really seems defined by his cultural background, skin colour, and sexual identity is the tall, handsome, young, straight, white male – Brad Cook – the figure that too often represents The Norm against which all else becomes A Character.

While he, too, is fully fleshed in his own host of quirks – like stuffing his beach findings, including an older woman’s bra, into his shoes – he is sympathetically exemplified as the unaware, jerk-of-an archetype, unable to find a comfortable home in his own “ideal” flesh.

Which makes it hilarious to recall my first thoughts when scanning the assembled cast as the lights went up. I noticed him, tall with a smart bowtie, and thought: what an attractive man!

This was the point, and I fell for it! And it only made the play a little more personal for me, asked me to reflect on my own position of relative privilege – not to mention how I might be interacting with images and appearances.

Not that Body 13 is by any means a didactic day at the theatre. It preaches not at all, and actually uses dialogue comparatively little, albeit to great effect.

It would be hard to choose any actor as standing out more than the rest, when the show’s strength really comes through in its ensemble pantomime. Expertly choreographed and beautifully performed, it’s funny, it’s sad, and it’s erotic as heck. You will never think about hockey in the same way!

This, too, speaks to the show’s intention of intertwining diverse people. The beauty is in this intertwining. There is no lead, no star. Almost everyone is on stage at all moments. This is about Canada as a diverse population, and it’s about the mosaic we all create. The individual stories are important, essential, because they add their own spot of colour to the shared pattern.

And this engagement of the “multiple” doesn’t end in content; it’s as multi-sensual as it is multicultural/sexual. Lighting is used to dreamy effect and the music is another character – beautiful on its own and yet so elemental to the mosaic that is Body 13.

A tangling of the intellect and the erotic, the lonely and the loved, this show is a good one for anyone who feels different, or the same.

Details

  • Body 13 is playing through January 26, 2013, at Theatre Passe Muraille mainspace (16 Ryerson Ave.)
  • Shows run Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 pm with Saturday matinees at 2:00 pm
  • Tickets range from $15 – $35
  • Tickets are available by phone at 416-504-7529, online or at the Arts Box Office (16 Ryerson Ave) Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm, and one hour before the show