The St. Vladimir Theatre hosts the Toronto Fringe Festival debut of Anatolia Speaks, a one-person show featuring actor Candice Fiorentino as a Bosnian refugee telling her life story. This show is occasionally sad, sometimes funny, and always compelling — a quiet gem of theatre that needs to be seen.
It’s spring of 1999, and Anatolia, a Bosnian transplant in her mid-20s now living in Edmonton, is using Powerpoint to tell her life story to her ESL classmates.
She begins by telling her class about her job at a local Superstore, well worth it despite the bus commute at 6 in the morning for the abundance of food and interesting personalities she encounters there.
Her presentation becomes more raw as unseen members of her audience, like the teacher Mrs. Wilson and the inquisitive Christiana, begin asking questions. What was her life like? Why are her husband and children not with her? Anatolia goes on to reveal all to her audience, telling all the sad things that Mrs. Wilson asked her class not to share, but sharing moments of hope as well.
Poiema Productions has a winner in Anatolia Speaks. Stories like Anatolia’s are, sadly, not at all rare; these voices deserve to be represented, and represented well. This script by Kenneth Brown, who is also the able director of this production, is emotionally evocative and grounded very much in the real, avoiding sentimentalism in favour of authenticity.
As with any one-person show, Anatolia Speaks has to be sustained by its actor. Fiorentino is more than up to the task. Her stage persona is entirely believable, from the tenseness in her body as she stands in front of her interrogators, to the grief she expresses when talking or hinting at the horrors in her past, to the moments of happiness she finds.
All of this was delivered for an hour in a credible Bosnian accent that Fiorentino maintains throughout the show,–even, impressively enough, while singing. Fiorentino is an actor to watch.
Anatolia Speaks is a quiet show: just one character in a room telling a rapt audience the story of her life. This script, and this actor, make this quiet into a powerful force. Anatolia Speaks is a theatrical experience should not be missed.
- Anatolia Speaks is playing until July 12 at the St. Vladimir Theatre. (620 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor St. West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Remaining show times
July 04 at 09:45 PM
July 05 at 05:45 PM
July 07 at 10:45 PM
July 08 at 02:30 PM
July 09 at 03:30 PM
July 11 at 08:45 PM
Photo of Candice Fiorentino by Brittany Balser.