In Out at Sea on stage at Toronto’s Storefront Theatre, three women are stranded in a boat
The play falls into the Theatre of the Absurd genre and was written by Slavomir Mrozek in Communist Poland in the early 1960s. The play is full of ‘lessons’ that are as relevant today as they were 55 years ago in Poland. The wonderful thing about Theatre of the Absurd is that no one beats you on the head with a stick. The play is very funny, the wordplay is brilliant.
This is the second play I’ve seen in as many weeks that was written for an oppressed society. The other was Nongogo. I enjoyed Out at Sea more. Apparently I like my political and moral lessons to be delivered with a large helping of humour. It’s interesting that both plays were written at about the same time and are so different in their approach.
Here’s the plot. Three people, shipwrecked, on a raft, have run out of food. They decide that they’re going to have to eat one person so the other two survive. No one volunteers and they realize that they have to decide how to decide. They try democracy and then justice but neither work. It’s pretty clear that the person who is most controlling and manipulative is the one with the advantage.
Traditionally Out at Sea is performed by men. Director Cam Sedgwick cast women in the roles. It adds an extra layer to the play showing that women can be as amoral and venal as an man when the choice is to eat or be eaten.
The three women – Ashleigh Kasaboski as Fat, Lauren Horejda as Medium, and Anne van Leewen as Thin – were all terrific. They worked so well together. The give and take between van Leewen as she thought of reason that the others shouldn’t eat her and Kasaboski as she thought of reasons that they should was sharp and fast. Meanwhile Horejda sharpened a knife and looked back and forth at them to see if it was time to make dinner.
Sean Sullivan played two roles, the postman and the butler. His fawning butler was the perfect mix of slavish obedience and loyalty.
The show was performed in the round and there was always something to see, at least one of the characters was always facing us. The humour is very broad and sometimes relies on the characters facial expressions and body language as much as it does on the dialogue. Horejda’s blank stare was fabulous.
I loved Chris Bretecher’s set. The ocean was aqua, navy blue, and white balloons. Brilliant. The raft was great too. I saw an old door and an old table facing the side where we were sitting.
Ashleigh Kasaboski did double duty. She also did the costumes and makeup. Nice dresses perfectly aged and tattered. Some nice scrapes and bruises and great sunburns. The women looked as if they’d been adrfit on a raft for quite a while.
I love shows where everything and everyone works perfectly together. It doesn’t always happen but when it does, it’s magical. There was great energy in the theatre.
Oh, so who did they eat? I’m not telling. You have to go see for yourself.
- Out at Sea is playing at The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West) until April 19th
- Performances are at 2 pm and at 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday
- Tickets are $20.00
- Tickets can be purchased online and at the door
Photo of the cast of Out at Sea by Candy Warhol and Karl DiPelino