As I walked into the Extraspace at Tarragon Theatre, the stage was adorned with a bed standing up vertically facing the audience, a clothesline holding various garments, and a small breakfast table ornamented with coffee cups and a newspaper. Jazz music from the 1930s played, giving the play a ragtime feel, and immediately Falling Awake was beginning before the stage lights went down.
This is the first time the company RAGMOP has performed in Toronto and therefore the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival, and it was a definitely a beneficial addition to the festival!
The performers and creators of RAGMOP — Nayana Fielkov and Matthew “Poki” McCorkle — starred in this absurdist performance, delivering a completely unique show. The play does not follow a traditional narrative, as it explores a woman’s dream, which is haunted by her deceased boyfriend. It sounds depressing, but the physical comedy and virtuoso performances by both actors completely immersed me in the dream-state world of the play.
Fielkov is a performing and visual artist trained in classical theatre, mask, clowning, and contact dance improvisation. Her comedic facial contortions and her understanding of the human body made her an charismatic performer. Her counterpart, McCorkle, is a mime and object manipulator, specializing in physical illusions, and his performance was mesmerizing — it was like watching a real-life magician at work.
The combination of their talents produced a immersive and interesting piece of theatre. The world they created reminded me of The Son of Man painting set to the music of Erik Satie, coincidentally both surrealist artists.
Upon reflection, this initial association makes sense as surrealism delves into the relationship between dreams and reality, which is the theme at the core of this play. Fielkov’s character cannot distinguish which is which, causing her to live in a state of suspension, never fully in one or the other.
The show has won multiple awards and it is no surprise. It was an entirely unique experience, one I have never witnessed in theatre before, and it exposed me to an entirely different world of performance. I would highly recommend this show if you want to be fully immersed in an absurdist, unparalleled reality… or is it a dream? You’ll have to go and see for yourself.
- Falling Awake is showing at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $10 and can be bought here or from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never permitted.
- This venue is wheelchair accessible.
- Warning for Sexual Content.
- June 30th at 8:45 PM
- July 2nd at 10:45 PM
- July 4th at 12:45 PM
- July 7th at 4:15 PM
- July 8th at 9:45 PM
- July 9th at 7:30 PM
- July 10th at 12:15 PM
Photo of Matthew “Poki” McCorkle and Nayana Fielkov by Kai Hou.