Review: Through The Gaze of a Navel (Crow’s Theatre)

Dark humour brings an edge to traditional yoga in Through the Gaze of a Navel part of the East End Performance Crawl

There are people who love doing yoga. There are people who hate doing yoga. Then, there are people (like me) who like doing it occasionally, but can’t quite buy into the spirituality and ritual nature of the whole practice. Sure, I’ll give the stretch my best shot, but my inner cynic never quite shuts up. Find my inner light? Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Through The Gaze of a Navel is a “performance in the form of a yoga class”, taking place as part of the East End Performance Crawl. And instead of asking you to hide your cynical feelings about the process, the instructor/performer, Emilia Symington Fedy, goes ahead and expresses them for you. Throughout the hour-long show/class, Symington Fedy parodies the rituals that we follow to find inner peace, both inside and outside the yoga studio.

To that aim, the show really did take place in a yoga studio, and the audience really was encouraged (but not forced) to take a mat, and follow along with Symingon Fedy’s instructions. Which, more often than not, consisted of warped versions of traditional yoga poses/exercises. I’m dying to share some examples here, but I don’t want to ruin the fun for anybody who might go check the show out – which I highly recommend that you do, if you have any familiarity with yoga, and enjoy dark humour. I haven’t laughed that much in a long while.

Emilia Symington Fedy, who created Through The Gaze of a Navel with Anita Rochon, was brilliant in her performance as a kind but authoritative yoga instructor who’s not afraid to ask tough, depressing questions of her students. I don’t even know if I can really say that she was performing a “role”, since she was using her real name. While the show isn’t billed as autobiographical, it’s not hard to imagine that Symington Fedy is sharing many of her own personal demons in Through The Gaze of a Navel. In any case, she was spectacularly funny and charming.

My plus one, who does a whole lot more yoga than I do, loved Through The Gaze of a Navel as much as I did. He said he’s never quite going to be able to take a yoga class the same way again, now that he’s seen one presented with such brutal honesty.

I’d not only second his opinion – I’d take it a step further. If there were a real yoga class in the style of Through The Gaze of a Navel, I would sign up for it in a heartbeat. To strive to find your inner light, you have to at least acknowledge that the dark part exists. Through The Gaze of a Navel celebrates this dark part, while leaving you smiling all the way out of the yoga studio.

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Photo of Emilia Symington Fedy provided by the company.

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