If you’ve never experienced devised theatre, Loose Leaf’s premiere production of Me With You at the 2015 Toronto Fringe is a powerful example. Oliver Georgiou and Myrthin Stagg claim the Factory Studio stage in order to perform a physically dynamic tale of two siblings and a history of mental illness. All proceeds from the performance will be donated to CAMH.
Sadly, much of the devised theatre I’ve seen was thrown together in order to avoid paying professional designers and other expenses. That is not the case with Loose Leaf Theatre or Me With You. United to tell a story about mental illness, every element of the production contributed to creating a clean, yet complex staging to embody this invisible ailment.
The musical score and live accompaniment by Elliot Loran ratcheted up the momentum in tense moments with its building drum riffs, and soothed with piano melodies in others. Combined with the staccato lighting and expressive choreography, I could see and hear so much of the characters’ internal feelings without words.
The boxes were my favorite part of the show’s design. Only fifteen to twenty cardboard boxes composed the set, but with them, Granger (Oliver Georgiou) and Sophie (Myrthin Stagg) played out their changing mental landscapes. Yet again, I didn’t need words to see the fear in compulsively stacking the boxes on top of each other or struggling to push them across the floor.
Prior to the Toronto Fringe, I’d only seen Oliver Georgiou perform as an improviser and comedic actor. His performance as Granger proved he has the physical chops to master a variety of tragic and other dramatic roles as well.
As his older sibling, Myrthin Stagg guarded her emotions throughout so much of the show, I didn’t at first know what to make of her. But when she exploded into action, Myrthin impressed me with her equally nuanced physical command of the stage.
Most importantly, Me With You lingered in the tense, silent moments and stretched out the choreographed transitions to let the two characters’ emotional arcs develop. It felt no need to diagnose either character, but let them perform without the expectations and limitations of labels. Not often do I wish a show was longer, especially one about such a tense personal topic, but that’s exactly what I wished after the final black out.
- Me With You is playing until July 15 at the Factory Theatre Studio. (125 Bathurst Street)
- 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.
- Warning: mature language.
July 05 at 06:30 PM
July 08 at 02:15 PM
July 09 at 11:00 PM
July 10 at 05:45 PM
July 11 at 02:15 PM
Photo of Oliver Georgiou and Myrthin Stagg by Janneke Tenbroek