Keeper, a new play by Tanisha Taitt, debuts at Toronto’s Artscape Youngplace
When I walked into the small room at Artscape Youngplace to watch Fine Wine Theatre’s Keeper, I was greeted with one of my favourite quotations hanging on a wall as part of the set. It is a variation of the Buddhist maxim, “In the end, what matters most is how well did you live, how well did you love, and how well did you learn to let go.” Keeper, whether by accident or design, touches on each to a powerful emotional effect.
Written by and starring Tanisha Taitt as Constance, alongside Clare Blackwood as Avalon, Keeper gives us a play about two women scarred by a shared past, that one can’t remember, and the other has been trying to forget.
Most everything I had read about great writing comes down to creating intriguing and unique characters, putting them in a room together, and letting them go. With Constance and Avalon, Taitt did just that, but the strength of this play isn’t just the characters. They are just the start.
As their story unravels, I found myself wrapped up in the mystery of their connection with a few “wow” moments, and I couldn’t help but think how these characters and this story is something I have never seen before. Excuse me for being vague, but it is entirely intentional as I feel giving more would rob future audiences of the pleasure of those “wow” moments.
I can say that the reason they met, the reason they parted, and the moments in between hit me square in the chest with feeling. This is because of Taitt’s talent as a writer and also because of the performances of Taitt and Blackwood.
While Blackwood sped through some of her dialogue at points, I felt it remained true to how Avalon would react in a heightened emotional state. Taitt’s performance was more subtle, and again, because Constance is meant to be a generation older, this is inline with the how age and experience teach us to react when in conflict.
Praise must be given to first time director Ayesha Mansur for helping guide these performances and Stage Manager Carolyn Brennan kept everything running smoothly as my attention never wavered from the stage.
Keeper is a must for those who like shows with depth, emotion, and drops of humour. Though it is not a mystery per se, Taitt’s story and characters are written in such a way that as the relationship reveals itself I could not help but think, “I did not see that coming”, in more than a good way.
- Keeper is playing until August 31st at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw St.)
- Shows run from August 25th to August 31st at 8pm
- Ticket prices range from $18-$22 and can be purchased online or at the door
Photo provided by the company.