Ergo Arts Theatre’s 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival production Buckle My Shoe is an interweaving tale of self-reflection spanning 30 years in the life of a conflicted writer. Walking into the show, I was somewhat expecting a play within a play, with two actors playing the same character, albeit with 30 years between them. What I experienced was three plays intermixed, with great results.
48 year-old Emma awakens in a semi-conscious state and forces herself to question events that occurred deep in her past. With her 18 year-old self acting as her guide, her antagonist, and her living memories in equal parts, present day Emma confronts feelings of love and regret in an attempt to finally bring her life into balance.
Gina Clayton’s performance as present-day Emma was excellent as her subtle approach aligned with the mental exhaustion of her character. I could feel how her Emma just wanted to be free from years of questioning her actions and her feelings, to finally live for the future as opposed to being burdened by the past.
Lily Scriven brought an energy and enthusiasm to past Emma, which was perfect for the 18 year-old character experiencing some of life’s first moments of love and loss.
Both performances could have stood alone as one-woman shows detailing moments in life and their honest reactions to them. I am glad that writers Alexis Bernier and Nastasia Pappas-Kemps put them together to have the “third” (inter)play, as Clayton and Scriven’s interactions – both direct and indirect – brought even more power and emotion to what each version of the character was feeling.
The stage was scarce of props and the lighting restrained, which I felt made perfect sense for the show. It is one character’s internal struggle against herself, and any more would have muddled the story. This also gave more attention to Clayton and Scriven, which was welcome.
Buckle My Shoe is a show that deals with how our past choices influence our future emotions, and the entire production made the right choices in how they presented that story.
- Buckle My Shoe is playing until July 11th at 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.
- Tuesday the 7th at 1:00pm
- Wednesday the 8th at 6:00pm
- Thursday the 9th at 1:45pm
- Saturday the 11th at 1:45pm
Photo of Lily Scriven and Gina Clayton by Georgia Kirkos