Double-bill Apollo & Daphne / Enoch Arden features “immensely talented” vocalists in stories about lost love
Apollo & Daphne / Enoch Arden is a double-bill being put on at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse by the Toronto Masque Theatre company this weekend only (Nov 17-19). It features some very in-demand Canadian performers and has raised the bar for this fairly green reviewer.
This is probably the most uncertainty I’ve had going into a production since I started with Mooney this past summer. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but was more than pleased with what I found.
Enoch Arden is an epic poem written by Tennyson in 1864. It’s a Romantic’s take on the tale of Odysseus, and it is utterly beautiful and heartbreaking. It is set to a gorgeous score by Richard Strauss, and seeing them performed together by two immensely talented artists (Frank Cox-O’Connell as the narrator with Angela Park at the piano) made for a sublime experience.
This is a very traditional presentation of this piece, but I didn’t feel that the show suffered for it in the slightest. You will not see this piece performed often, nor is it a style of performance art that most people have been exposed to in any capacity. Were it not for a seminar in Romantic art and literature that I took on a whim many years ago when I was just starting my bachelors, I too would fall into this majority.
Frank Cox-O’Connell can usually be found in shows with Soulpepper, and is truly a joy to see and listen to in this setting. His voice-work is impeccable, and he truly brings this text to life, crafting multiple characters that are each distinguishable from one another. A small thing I marvelled at: he never has to shout to convey shouting in the story, simply raising his voice is enough and it keeps you pulled in tight to the tale.
This masterful reading from Cox-O’Connell, combined with Angela Park’s delicate, touching performance hooked me and pulled me into the story. By the tale’s tragic end (it is a romantic poem after all), I felt like a bit of a husk. After a brief intermission, we were presented with another tale of lost love in the form of Handel’s Apollo & Daphne.
Apollo & Daphne is a cantata and one of Handel’s earlier works. Here it is being performed by two immensely talented vocalists, Geoffrey Sirett and Jacqueline Woodley.
The schoolhouse’s acoustics were lovely and made their performances feel warm and intimate. From the description, I expected this performance to simply be sung without any theatrics, but was pleasantly surprised that it was acted out in full. Stéphanie Brochard played the silent role of cupid and danced alongside Sirett and Woodley.
All three roles in this show—Apollo, Daphne, and Cupid—were acted out wonderfully. Cupid and Apollo were fittingly frustrating to watch, being typically callous and self-centered Greek gods. Woodley was enthralling as Daphne and portrayed the character with many layers of emotion. My guest and I were also extremely impressed by how Sirett portrayed Apollo; there is a noticeable shift in him after he is hit by cupid’s arrow and it’s almost as though he has crafted two separate characters.
The people performing in this double bill are probably the most talented performers I have had the pleasure of reviewing. This show will not be for everyone, as I’m sure that many people aren’t itching to hear an hour-long reading of an epic poem or see an operatic performance like Apollo & Daphne. However, for those who do enjoy such pieces as these, this is an absolute treat.
These performances both have a common theme of lost love. Or as my guest saw it “the thrill of love and the misguided choices it pushes us towards”. The themes and the powerhouse performances in the small Enoch Turner Schoolhouse made for an intimate and special evening. It’s a shame that with limited engagements like this, my review probably won’t reach some readers until after this show has closed. However, I highly recommend that you keep an eye on Toronto Masque Theatre to catch their next production.
- Enoch Arden / Apollo & Daphne is playing at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse.
- Performances run until November 19, 2016.
- Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8:00PM. There is a pre-show at 7:15 PM.
- Run time is approximately 2 hours.
- Tickets can be purchased at the door or online, they are $50 with additional prices for students ($20) and seniors ($43).
Jacqueline Woodley as Daphne, photo by Gordon Mony-Penny.