SCAT (Laugh Serious Theatre) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Christol Bryan, RJ Lim Daunt, and Aman Banwait

Laugh Serious Theatre’s SCAT is designed to make you uncomfortable. The site-specific play, staged for the Toronto Fringe Festival in the waiting area and public bathrooms of the Queen West Community Centre, is an intimate portrayal of the impact of restroom politics.

Anyone who has ever spent time in a public washroom in a school, dorm, or nightclub knows that some of the most compelling dramas play out on this intimate stage. Women pour their hearts out within the safety of the stalls. Men observe unspoken etiquette not to socialize at the urinals. And countless individuals fight for the right to use a restroom that reflects their own sense of identity.

SCAT follows the intimate moments of three performers depicting the evolving restroom politics throughout history, from the creation of the public toilet as a facility for wealthy white men, until eventually women, people of colour, and transgender people gained rights to equal access.

Performers Aman Banwait, Christol Bryan, and RJ Lim Daunt shine in depicting those private moments you might stumble upon in any public restroom. A stranger preparing for a sexual encounter, downing shots, shooting up, or reading the results of an HIV test. Or someone following the call of nature to cross gender or race lines that try to dictate where you can or cannot relieve yourself. Some of life’s greatest highs and worst lows are played out in the stalls and counters of the public restroom.

The performers – and the toilets – are right there in your face, which makes the show feel like a drama you happened to step into when you just wanted to freshen up. There are numerous invitations to engage in improvised exchanges with the performers, which some audience members were more open to than others. All three performers had a good sense of how to engage even the most reluctant audience members, while also respecting their right to silently observe.

At times the small performance spaces made for difficult viewing angles. This lent an added sense of reality, as though you were eavesdropping on someone else’s dramatic moment, but it was sometimes difficult to catch the nuance of the performances without a strategic viewing angle after each of the location changes. Some audience members preferred to hover near the entranceway, but for the best experience, I’d recommend not being shy and immersing yourself fully into the scene.

SCAT may not be everyone’s cup of tea. You’ll be standing for most of the 45-minute performance, and the three diverging performances of vignettes mean there is no single through-line for the show. But if you’re comfortable getting a little uncomfortable, you’ll be rewarded with a timely, thought-provoking, and emotionally moving performance.

Details

  • SCAT plays at the Queen West Community Health Centre. (168 Bathurst St.)
  • 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 aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Sexual Content, Realistic Violence or Gore, Audience Participation, Mature Language.
  • The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • Thursday July 6th, 05:00 pm
  • Thursday July 6th, 06:30 pm
  • Saturday July 8th, 12:30 pm
  • Monday July 10th, 05:00 pm
  • Monday July 10th, 06:30 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 05:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 06:30 pm
  • Thursday July 13th, 05:00 pm
  • Thursday July 13th, 06:30 pm
  • Saturday July 15th, 12:30 pm

Photo of Christol Bryan, RJ Lim Daunt, and Aman Banwait by Lana Missen

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