How Did You Find Me Here? is a play by Alchemistic Theatre Company in the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. It is an intriguing piece of visual theatre about an Aboriginal male who confronts his cultural heritage for the first time in 25 years. Brendan Chandler, as Bear, and Jessica Bowmer, as Shadow, create a striking presence in this performance, and seem to be personifications of something much larger than themselves.
We follow Chandler into the labyrinth of his own consciousness, as he tumultuously confronts his identity, all the while connected to Bowmer’s character, Shadow. How Did You Find Me Here? offers no clear storyline or logic, but is a captivating insight into one individual’s relationship with themself as they make sense of what it means to be a ‘self’ at the face of a much larger cultural identity.
This play has the barest of sets, and the vast black backdrop, along with Bowmer’s dark costume, puts most of the focus on Chandler. It is unclear exactly who Shadow is to Bear- but their connection to each other is indisputable.
Chandler and Bowmer demonstrate this connection with controlled physicality–always at a distance to each other, yet their motions indicate an overpowering energy force binding them. Bear seems to draw energy from Shadow, but is also subject to devastation and anguish. There seems to be an overwhelming torrent of memories–personal and collective histories–and a whole range of emotions. This is all represented through visceral movements and verbal outbursts.
The “just a dream” scene was incredibly powerful and highlighted Chandler’s strong acting abilities. It feels as though he loses himself to it–but then skillfully regains control again as the sequence continues. Shadow, in contrast, is a character who is levelled and seemingly much more at ease, and Bowmer is constant in the way she offers balance to her counterpart.
This play was wrought with symbolism–and I personally found it a bit opaque, but then simultaneously took enjoyment out of the indeterminacy of it. After the show, Chandler sweetly engaged with the audience and asked for our interpretation of different aspects of the show.
I think personally, it would have been easier to connect emotively had I a clearer idea what was going on at times–whether this could be represented through more verbal dialogue, or perhaps even more music. The music that was incorporated was fitting and set the tone well–I would have liked to hear more of it.
All in all, this was a memorable piece of theatre that I am glad to have witnessed.
- How Did You Find Me Here? plays at The Theatre Centre’s Franco Boni Theatre. (1115 Queen St. W.)
- 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 Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 08:45 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 05:45 pm
- Monday July 10th, 01:15 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 07:30 pm
- Friday July 14th, 12:30 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 11:00 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 04:30 pm
Photo of Brendan Chandler provided by the company.