Not Enough, a one-person show starring Megan Phillips currently running in the Toronto Fringe Festival at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, is a powerful show. Phillips’ compelling performance as a person trying to save herself through a ten-day meditation retreat, built on a heartbreakingly frank script and supported by inventive sound design, is a must-see.
Not Enough begins with Phillips’ character presenting herself to a skeptical interviewer at a British Columbia meditation retreat. Part of her wants to be accepted, to try to use the experience of ten days of isolation in the centre, spending ten hours a day meditating, to try pull out of a downward spiral. Other parts of her are much more reluctant, whether those parts are an anxious inner voice eager to convince her that she does not need or deserve to do this, or barely audible recurring thoughts that she is “not enough” in the back of her mind. What will happen to her, meditating in complete silence, alone with herself and her thoughts?
This is a powerful and inventive show. Few are the people who can engage in critical self-examination without some kind of difficulty, and the examination of one’s self–one’s past, one’s mistakes–through solitary meditation has the potential to be especially hard. Isolated from the rest of humanity and accompanied only by one’s own unfiltered memories and self-critical monologues, the experience can easily be overwhelming for people who are not prepared for what might come.
Phillips’ character certainly goes through all of this, her interior dialogues reminding herself not just of her current issues but also of the traumas of her past, of failed auditions and breakups both professional and personal and terribly experiences of rejection, all evoked by her own mind. This script is sound, describing something perfectly plausible and telling this story well.
Phillips takes Not Enough, already a compelling story of growth and change, and pushes it one step beyond through her fantastic performance. In this show, she delivers one powerful performance after another, not only providing telling imitations of the skeptical interviewer and the cherry voice of her meditation instructor’s videotape recording, but doing a remarkably good job of depicting one person at war with herself. Phillips does as good a job of depicting a person with a messy and complex history, with mixed motives and real internal struggles, as I have ever seen an actor do.
She is aided by director and dramaturge TJ Dawe, who does a superb job of making an unadorned stage the imperfect cradle for this intense psychodrama. I was particularly taken by this show’s inventive use of sound recording and looping, Phillips’ words and phrases echoing in the theatre as she continues to speak while the audience watches and listens–it could send chills down my spine.
Not Enough is a superb piece of theatre, innovative and intense as it takes the audience on a journey of exploration of a character desperately trying to understand herself. People who are interested in the mechanics and consequences of meditation would certainly enjoy this show, but they would be far from the only people who would enjoy it. Anyone interested in the story of how individuals, complex and divided though they might be, can start to change would love this play. Not Enough is that rare show that deserves all the attention fans of theatre can give it.
- Not Enough is playing until July 15 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Avenue)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- July 5th at 8:45 pm
- July 7th at 11:30 pm
- July 9th at 1:45 pm
- July 11th at 10:15 pm
- July 13th at 3:30 pm
- July 14th at 7:30 pm
- July 15th at 12:00 pm
Photo of Megan Phillips by Kia Vance.