Powerful, heartfelt, and honest. These were the first three words that popped in my head after I left Shotgun Juliet’s production of Matthew Eger’s To Be Alone With You. It is definitely a highlight of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.
Matthew wrote To Be Alone With You as a way to make sense of the complicated emotions brought up by the suicide of a former lover. He delves into himself with the help of song, dance, and what can best be described as a love letter to the acceptance of loss.
From the opening song, Matthew owns the stage but doesn’t control it. Instead, when the presence of his lover appears he shares the space with him, but also with the audience, and with himself. I felt as though Matthew was speaking to each of us as if we were the physical representation of his lost love making the show even that much more impactful.
Though the impetus for the show was a suicide, it is not a dark story. The moments of laughter are on point, and Matthew’s brave smile while remembering the fun he shared and could have shared with his lover, reminded me that though relationships may end on bad terms, good times were still had and the end doesn’t erase those experiences.
In addition, Matthew speaks about struggling with his sexuality and brings to light the ongoing struggle that many LGBT youth face as the world slowly catches up with modern culture and society.
The pace and structure of the performance are well thought out, with original songs and music acting as place holders for act-breaks but also moving the story along. While breaks for song can stall or sometimes even stop a performance, I felt Matthew’s skill of being able to emote while playing guitar and singing kept things flowing.
To Be Alone With You is a story about the loss of another, but it also deftly examines how we can lose ourselves in the face of such a tragedy. Matthew does well in focusing on this as it is one of the most important aspects of dealing with the loss or death of a loved one.
How do we pick up the pieces after everything we thought was our life vanishes without explanation? Matthew shows us, while it is nowhere near easy, it can be done if we are able to be honest with ourselves.
- To Be Alone With You is playing until July 12th at the St. Vladimir Theatre. (620 Spadina Ave.)
- 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 performance. 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.
- Mature Language
- Monday the 6th at 3:00pm
- Wednesday the 8th at 7:45pm
- Friday the 10th at 2:15pm
- Saturday the 11th at 12:00pm
- Sunday the 12th at 9:00pm
Photo provided by the company.