A site-specific show, Rise/Fall produced by Malcontent Theatre Company is playing at the 2017 Toronto Fringe. A small and inexperienced military group come face to face with their morality as they defend the wall from those on the other side. The audience, split by a wall, witnesses the effects of segregation in a Toronto dystopia.
A big reason I wanted to see this show was the concept of a physical wall splitting the audience in half. Site-specific shows can be a risk, and I thought the wall paid off. There was a good amount you heard from the other side to keep you engaged and curious. In saying that, I am only reviewing my experience from one side of the wall. I was on the “white” side of the wall,
Now I do understand that this was set in a future Toronto dystopia, but due to the current political climate, I don’t think the story was separated enough from our current reality. There may not be a wall right now between America and Mexico, but people are losing their freedom- and lives- everyday due to the actions of Trump. As Canadians this isn’t our story to tell, and as Jacob Fulton (writer/director) being a white male, I don’t think this is his story to tell. I just didn’t feel he had the experience to express the importance and weight of the shows subject matter.
I do think that discrimination and segregation are important themes to explore through theatre; I just don’t think that was the right way to do it. If the whole thing was elevated and detached, if it pushed the dystopia even further or even had a satirical edge, I would have felt more comfortable. It was never mentioned that it was in the future or even in Toronto. If I didn’t read the write up on the Fringe website I would have thought it was about the US/Mexico Wall, sans Mexican actors.
Though the story was lacking depth and history for me, I don’t think Jacob Fulton is a bad director or writer at all. I thought the dialogue between the actors was strong and he kept good pacing of the show. There were some really great moments between the actors and for an intimate, unique setting he did a great job blocking the piece. I would have loved to seen a bit more endowment of the wall, what it meant to the characters. For me it didn’t make sense why they were cleaning it. I was also confused at the choice of using eggs and fruits as weapons, I felt it took away from the seriousness of the issues. At the end of the show the epilogue that (kind of?) broke the forth wall seemed like a redundant last-ditch effort to let us know that hate and discrimination are bad.
I feel that for newer or younger playwrights it is always best to write what you know, share your experiences. I see a lot of promise in Jacob Fulton and I look forward to watching his experiences on the stage. I’d say get a friend, go see this show, and sit on opposite sides of the wall. It will make for a good discussion after the show.
- Rise/Fall plays at Artscape Youngplace North Lawn. (180 Shaw 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, Mature Language.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 08:00 pm
- Friday July 7th, 08:00 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 08:00 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 08:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 08:00 pm
- Friday July 14th, 08:00 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 08:00 pm
Photo provided by company.