The Blue Show at Toronto’s InspiraTO Festival delivers a variety of mini plays to tug at your emotional strings
It has often been said that variety is the spice of life. And with an eclectic selection of 25 10-minute plays to enjoy, the InspiraTO Festival is sure to have something on the docket for every taste. From short absurdist comedies to heart-breaking slice-of-life snippets, the plays run the full gamut of emotions – all centred on this year’s theme of crossing dimensions.
The plays are grouped into four main shows: the Red Show, the Blue Show, the Orange Show and the White Show. Each show runs for approximately 70 minutes and features works from established authors and both internationally recognized and up-and-coming playwrights.
I had the privilege to attend and review the opening night performance of this year’s Blue Show.
Jars by Brittany Taylor
Have you ever had a feeling that made you so happy, you wish you could hold onto it forever? Jars examines the relationship between two brothers. Blake has just returned from a tour of duty, and his younger autistic brother, Jimmy, welcomes him home. This play centres on the dialogue the two share concerning Jimmy’s practise of keeping his most cherished memories stored safely in jars. It’s really a heartwarming piece that makes you reconsider how you see the world around you and how you cherish the people and memories that make you who you are.
The Dolphin Kick by Asher Wyndham
The Dolphin Kick tells the story of a professional swimmer who, while physically being female on the outside, is proven to be genetically and hormonally male. While the subject matter is fresh and unexplored, I found there to be a lack of substance or closure to the storyline. Just as we finally gain interest into the plight of the main character, the 10-minute curtain call occurs. With just a little bit more focus, however, I think this could be a very powerful piece.
Eating French by Damon Chua
There’s something just so satisfying about poignantly executed absurdist comedies. Just like the high-calorie French cuisine this play satirizes, the dialogue in this play is devilishly delicious. We are introduced to a typical white picket fence family, but soon learn that not everything is as perfect as it seems. Eating French examines how ready and willing we are as a society to sweep unfortunate events under the rug, in order to keep up appearances. This piece deals with sensitive subject matter – including adultery and incest – but delivers its commentary using sharp humour that’s actually a pleasure to watch. Go see this play. It will have you (guiltily) laughing out loud.
Haunted by Matthew Sarookanian
Haunted examines one man’s struggle with his guilt after a hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of one young boy. Told as a dialogue between him and the spectre he sees only in his mind, this piece hits a wide spectrum of emotion. Kitti Laki was absolutely captivating as the young ghost, Daniel, perfectly channeling the whimsy and wonder lust of a rambunctious youngster. For me, this was definitely one of the stronger pieces of the night.
In Kabul by Laurie Fyffe
We often hear how war takes a terrible toll on soldiers. In Kabul chronicles the struggle of a former soldier who is now forced to put down his gun and pick up a briefcase. Now haunted by the atrocities he witnessed while on duty, the main character struggles to keep sane as a civilian. This was a moving piece – powerfully written and brilliantly performed.
Freefalling by Aurin Squire
No matter how hard we try to control our destinies, we can only live day by day, moment to moment. Freefalling takes place on an airplane that’s spiraling hopelessly out of control. This was the play of the night. The writing was fast-paced yet emotionally charged. With every passing moment, we are left on the edge of our seats, not knowing what will happen next. But the real strength of this play is the depth with which the characters’ inter-personal relationships are developed. Their heartwarming yet tragic interaction shows us that, even in our darkest hour, there’s still hope.
The Marionette Makers by Dominik Loncar
The last play of the night was penned by the festival’s artistic director, Dominik Loncar. In this play, we are introduced to a travelling troupe of marionette makers. Stranded on a deserted island, they are forced to choose between escape and maintaining the legacy of their craft. While there was a little bit of a disconnect between certain narrative components, this piece is rich with fantastical allegory and beautiful imagery. If you’re a fan of old world folktales, this play is for you.
- InspiraTO Festival is playing at the Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street) until June 7, 2014 (with an awards ceremony following the final show)
- Shows run Wednesday and Thursday starting from 7pm, Friday starting at 8pm, and Saturday starting at 4pm
- Ticket are $20/$15 for students, festival passes are $50/$40 for students
- Tickets are available online, or through the box office one hour before the show
Photo courtesy of Dominik Loncar.