Or Be Eaten (Silent Protagonist) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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Or Be Eaten by Silent Protagonist is an “urban fairy tale” in the Fringe Festival that uses mask, puppetry and clown. It tells the story of Ash, a homeless man who journeys under the city through abandoned subway tunnels trying to find a utopian Toronto neighbourhood where no one ever goes hungry.

Scott Garland, Amy Marie Wallace and Graeme Black Robinson take on the variety of theatre forms with gusto and it all melded together charmingly. A curtained rack is the main set piece and serves many purposes.

When Ash encounters goblins who plan to eat him for dinner, the rack hides the performer’s bodies as they manipulate the goblin puppets above. Later it becomes a weapon that Ash uses against the crow Cordivia, who also intends to eat him. Even later the curtain itself becomes a rock-and-concrete monster who is trying –you guessed it! – to eat Ash.

The theme of hunger is fitting to the message which seemed to be a heartfelt, if rather generic, plea on the behalf of the homeless. My main problem with the show was that Ash was a static character. When it begins we are told that he is a social pariah in the homeless community. I would generally expect such a story to involve the protagonist learning lessons from his adventures and becoming a better person, but that didn’t happen. Or, if this fulfilled the monomyth, Ash would somehow be able to benefit others with the success of his journey. That didn’t happen either.

This is a new and ambitious first production though, and I expect future iterations of Or Be Eaten to have a more developed script. The show itself was about forty-five minutes, and I could have watched much longer – even in the always-freezing St Vlad’s!

I certainly do hope for this work to grow. It was wonderful to see a vivacious production that adeptly incorporated mask, puppet and clown to tell a locally set fable.

There was verbal and physical comedy and this is a show that could become a favourite of both children and adults alike.

Details

  • Or Be Eaten plays at St. Vlad’s Theatre, 620 Spadina Avenue
  • Performances are:
    July 04 06:30 PM
    July 05 03:30 PM
    July 07 05:45 PM
    July 09 02:45 PM
    July 11 05:15 PM
    July 12 09:45 PM
    July 13 07:00 PM

    Tickets
    • Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
    • Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
    • Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
    • LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

    Image of Or Be Eaten provided by Silent Protagonist