Duets for Beginners (Clayton Lee) 2016 SummerWorks Review

Duets for Beginners

Clayton Lee’s Duets for Beginners is part of the Live Art series at SummerWorks 2016. Here’s the line that really struck me when I read the description: “His intimate performance offers an antidote to cynicism through quiet moments of reflection and a simple desire to connect.” 

As much as I love whimsy and goofball antics, there is a part of me that is very wary of other people and — more importantly —distrustful of my own motivations. It seems every day something from the news pops into my Facebook feed that reminds me we’re all horrible and might have about a century left on the planet before we’re just an ugly smear.

Yet there I was in the lobby of the Factory Theatre with a table full of wind-up toys amongst curious, giddy people. Nobody was judging anybody else and nobody had anything to prove or defend themselves against. We could watch from a distance or play by ourselves or share the experience with someone at our elbow.

It takes a few minutes for a momentum to build. When I first walked into the space, the boundaries of the event weren’t obvious. What was expected of me? When does the show start? Then, slowly, as people began to play with the toys, I realized: ah, we’re all part of this!

The experience is most rewarding if you interact with people. I wish I had been less reserved. I might have been more forthcoming had I brought a friend. (By the way, this is a great show to share with a friend. And it’s free!)

So, I played with some wind-up toys and had a good time. I particularly enjoyed watching and listening to everyone else as they discovered favourites and bonded with each other. I realized how rarely I let myself play with strangers.

This session with wind-up toys is a whimsical delight and just one of three different experiences that Lee has designed to encourage engagement and interaction. Please see the show page for details about the multiple venues and concepts. Please see the show page for details about the multiple venues and concepts.


Duets for Beginners plays at multiple locations. (Please see show page for details.)

Show times:

  • Thursday August 4th, 7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
  • Friday August 5th. 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Monday August 8th, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Wednesday August 10th, 3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
  • Thursday August 11th, 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
  • Saturday August 13th, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Sunday August 14th, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series ticket prices vary. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted. (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.