Toronto is a city whose history is sometimes hard to grasp, often existing as little more than plaques on stone. In The Hollow Square by kith&kin playing at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church in The Music Gallery as part of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival, the audience gets to take a journey back in time that I found compelling, ethereal, and incredibly experiential.
I will freely admit that shows like The Hollow Square are one of the reasons I love Fringe. Where else will you see some low-key, unique, and evocative theatre for a reasonable price?
Over the course of an hour, three personal stories from Toronto in the 1840’s are showcased through historical context and personal naratives. There is Edward Medcalf (Griffin McInnes) who writes for the Globe and Mail, Mary Sweeney (Marina Maye Gwynne) an Irish immigrant, and Lucie Blackburn (Maureen Murray) who helped found Toronto’s first cab company. Their stories are accompanied and interspersed by hymns sung beautifully by a choral ensemble.
I don’t think you often get to go to a show that makes you relax back into your seat and just let everything happen. Initially I thought (with some trepidation) that the plot was going to be a little too straightforward. That said, it gives way pretty quickly halfway through the show to a much more enjoyable set of personal monologues.
You don’t go to a show like this for the story, not completely, anyway. You go for great vocal work and some great character moments.
The monologues are excellent. In particular Murray as Blackburn has such a wonderful story and she just tells it, letting the events and circumstances speak for themselves. It’s not really about acting but instead telling a compelling personal story and letting us get a glimpse of a figure lost to history.
Honestly, the whole performance left me with chills.
The biggest warning I have for people watching Hollow Square is that you are not going to see everything. The staging is such that no matter where you sit there are going to be certain bits out of your sightline. The seats all face the centre of the stage and the actors and shadow puppets all happen at the edge of that space for huge portions of the work. Normally I’d be more critical about the lack of focus in direction–it can be a bit irritating to have to keep looking left and right at various things happening—but I never felt like I was actually missing anything. Instead I just wanted to see everything and I think that’s a significant distinction.
I wanted to take it all in. If you have an evening to spare, I’d highly recommend taking in The Hollow Square, too.
- The Hollow Square is playing until July 11 at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church in The Music Gallery (197 John St.)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
July 03 at 08:30 PM
July 04 at 08:30 PM
July 05 at 08:30 PM
July 06 at 08:30 PM
July 07 at 08:30 PM
July 09 at 08:30 PM
July 10 at 08:30 PM
July 11 at 08:30 PM
Photo of Hollow Square Choral Ensemble Members by Emily Fitzpatrick