Review: Unemployment Unanimous (Project Boomerang)

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The struggle of Gen Y vs the career market is tackled in Unemployment Unanimous at Toronto’s Mixed Company Theatre

Theatre that’s successfully interactive and relatable isn’t the easiest feat to perform, but Project Boomerang, Mixed Company Theatre’s emerging artists collective, does a solid job of building an experience that’s thoughtful, immersive and truly entertaining.

A workshop production that tackles the ever-talked about issue of Millenials and their stigma of laziness and entitlement, Unemployment Unanimous is performed like a support group for Gen Y-ers. A mock 12-step program to help young people forgo the perils of unemployment and work towards the goal of finding that elusive career.

While the show did contain that raw and exciting energy that comes from the discoveries made of a work in progress, it had definite polish in the details, especially the staging. The performance space was set up in the round, which was successful in creating the intimate atmosphere that you might equate with a support group meeting, made more authentic by the actors who continuously mingled with the audience. We were invited to participate in a few career preparation exercises, all the while listening to the actors as they told their stories of post-graduation disillusionment.

The cast is a dynamic ensemble of nine young actors, each of which bring a comfortable and personable energy to the piece. Considering they each have a deeply personal and creative stake in the project, I think their collective talents mesh well together and they do a great job of bringing the audience in without being forceful or insincere.

Through a mix of movement, dance, monologues and a little bit of multimedia, we’re given a relatable look into the struggles that Millenials face, specifically those who decided to pursue a future in the arts. Being an arts graduate Millenial myself, I immediately connected with the piece, though looking around me, there were a few non-Millenials who seemed to be just as enthralled. The show’s self-referential and often tongue-in-cheek humour brings a lighter sense to the subject matter that could easily be taken a bit too seriously.

While the show’s successes lie in its direction, creative delivery, interactive elements and some magical moments of improv, I do think that some care needs to be paid to the text. The interspersed monologues sometimes felt a little out of place, and not all of them were as solid as they could have been both script and performance-wise. There was a lot of repetition in the piece that was oftentimes powerful–a surprising exchange between cast members Michael Reinhart and Jenna Harris comes to mind–but also occasionally overwrought.

Does the piece propose an answer for Millenials and how they should cope with adulthood? Not really, and this particular performance speaks only from one particular perspective of Gen Y, but I think it presents some good questions about the definition of success. And it does so in a way that’s not abrasive or worthy of an eye roll. At the very least, this energetic group is already dismantling the Millenial stigma by banding together and creating something meaningful through tackling the issue head on.

Details

Photo of Kristin Bartlett, Emma Bulpin, Nicole De Angelis, Jenna Harris, Emma Letki, Erin McCluskey, Michael Reinhart, Aidan Sheppard and Meara Tubman-Broeren courtesy of the company.

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