Trace (Vertical City/Theatre Gargantua) 2014 SummerWorks Review

TraceThink back to your childhood, when your world was filled with wonders and thrills. If you have fond memories of huddling under a blanket fort with a flashlight and telling your friends or siblings ghost stories, then Trace, presented by Vertical City/Theatre Gargantua as part of Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival, is a show for you.

The site-specific show playing at ArtScape Youngplace is part art installation, part storytelling and part participatory theatre. The audience is first lead through an antechamber filled with antique artifacts to pique a sense of nostalgia that lingers throughout the performance.

You’re then ushered into the main performance space: a large white room with high ceilings and a collection of lamps scattered throughout. The two performers, Martin Julien and Michelle Polak, roam the space and engage audience members in a series of intimate interactions. Fair warning: you will be asked to participate.

Between the interactions with audience members, the show consists of snippets of stories pulled from a variety of sources. There’s no narrative per se, as the stories are presented in a haphazard, non-linear way. Trace is kaleidoscopic in nature, much like memory itself.

The show is unveiled in broad impressionistic strokes, and appeals heavily to our sense of nostalgia around childhood. Julien and Polack play off each other with child-like whimsy, but a wistful undercurrent also underlies their performance.

While the entire experience runs a tad too long, overall I thought Trace was beautiful, intimate and understated. I love how the show presents you with an echo of your childhood, and invites you to into a world built on your own memories.


Trace is a site-specific show performed at ArtScape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street)

Show times:

Tuesday August 12, 8:00pm
Wednesday August 13, 8:00pm
Wednesday August 13, 10:00pm
Thursday August 14, 8:00pm
Thursday August 14, 10:00pm
Friday August 15, 8:00pm
Friday August 15, 10:00pm
Saturday August 16, 8:00pm
Saturday August 16, 10:00pm
Sunday August 17, 8:00pm

All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, By phone by calling the Ticketwise Call Centre at 416-907-0468, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West) August 5th-17th from 10AM – 7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows

Photo by Bruce Barton