The actors of CorpOLuz Theatre’s production, Upon the Fragile Shore, boldly stated the theme of the night at the onset: “We are here together.” A collection of tales ripped from international headlines, Upon the Fragile Shore is a thoughtful, ambitious production on the interconnectedness of human experiences and the importance of our relationship with our environment.
Upon the Fragile Shore consists of nine different stories separated into two parts and the company of four actors plays sixteen different characters. Part one tells stories about the effects of climate change on Louisiana, the torture of student protestors in Venezuela, and the aftermath of the theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The second part contains even more tales and characters, taking us from bombings in Damascus, Syria to the bombings in Jos, Nigeria.
The stories are told to us through a mix of dialogue, monologues, and movement from characters whose voices are often unheard or whose lives have been affected by the aforementioned events in unsuspecting ways. While all the stories take place far away from one another, they are all connected by violence, by loss, and by the connection between humanity and nature.
I mostly enjoyed the writing of playwright Caridad Svich. While there was a beautiful lyrical quality to some of the monologues, she knew when to bring it back to more realistic speech. A particularly good balance was struck during a dialogue on the different ways we process grief as demonstrated by those who were grieving over their loved ones on the ill-fated MH370 flight. I must also praise Svich for bringing focus to an issue like the Sahrawi refugee camps that do not get as much attention as it deserves.
However, I thought that a couple of scenes carried on for far too long and certain lines sounded a bit cheesy to my ears.
All the performances were fearless. The performers broke the fourth wall often and were not afraid to directly engage audience members. Every actor was not only able to carry their individual moments but was able to create really genuine connections with one another.
Unfortunately, I was often distracted by some of the accent work. Sometimes the actors seemed so focused on keeping their accents that they lost volume or enunciation. There were also times where I felt that they could’ve taken a more time with the more tender moments.
I found the choreography and movement to be particularly strong and some of the strongest scenes were ones that only involved a movement piece to voice-overs. There was also a stunning sequence where the actors created a swaying tree with their bodies to carry a character across the stage. Particular repetitive movements were also very effectively used to create connections between characters and stories.
Additionally, I was impressed by the ambitious and creative lighting design – there was a moment where water ripples were reflected throughout the entire theatre with light. But there were other times where the actors’ faces weren’t properly lit (too often to be for effect) and sometimes the frequent lighting changes distracted from, rather than aided, the performances.
Although some of the themes were a bit too spelled out for me, Upon the Fragile Shore was a generally enjoyable show that provided me with some food for thought.
- Saturday August 8th 10:00 PM
- Sunday August 9th 7:30 PM
- Tuesday August 11th 9:45 PM
- Thursday August 13th 4:45 PM
- Friday August 14th 9:45 PM
- Saturday August 15th 12:00 PM
- Sunday August 16th 8:15 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee).
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
Photo provided by the company.