For me lab le jeu inc’s production of Tikva’s Orchestra playing at Toronto Fringe Festival had a dreamlike quality which stayed with me after I left the theatre. I think it was my brain’s way of letting me appreciate the incredible beauty of the piece without being emotionally flattened by the story, which is harrowing.
Tikva is a Jewish cellist in Germany. She tries to save her fellow orchestra members from the Nazis.
Tikva’s Orchestra is billed as physical theatre. I think that’s because there are ropes and bungees and aerial acrobatics in the performance. I would call it dance. It seems more graceful and controlled than acrobatics.
The piece was developed by Alisa Walton, Ginette Mohr and Thomas Morgan Jones. Mohr is the director and Walton and Morgan Jones are the performers. David Mesiha composed the hauntingly magnificent music.
Jason Hand designed the lighting which is almost as important as the performers. This is a piece that needs to be performed in almost darkness. It wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if it were bright in the theatre.
If you’ve ever been to the Annex Theatre you’ll know that it’s unusual. I think it’s an octagon, not very big, and the stage is just a slightly raised platform. There are stairs down to the stage on two sides. It’s about three stories high. Sometimes it can feel like watching theatre inside a silo.
Today it was perfect. The combination of the height and Hand’s lighting meant that the bungee and the ropes seemed to be floating, the rigging was invisible.
Morgan Jones was great as the orchestra conductor slowly juggling red scarves, the Nazi officer interrogating Tikva, and her guardian, protecting and helping her. He portrayed them all perfectly, adapting the way he moved to suit the character.
Walton’s performance was controlled and emotional at the same time. She’s at times happy, afraid, terrified, defeated, and, through and above it all, hopeful.
Tikva’s Orchestra is, in the end, about hope.
Tikva’s Orchestra plays at Annex Theatre (736 Bathurst St.)
July 02 at 10:30pm
July 05 at 5:15pm
July 06 at 12:30pm
July 07 at 6:45pm
July 09 at 4:00pm
July 10 at 9:15pm
July 11 at 12:00pm
Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online , by phone (416-966-1062), 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 if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo of Thomas Morgan Jones in Tikva’s Orchestra, by Ginette Mohr