Portrait (The Dietrich Group) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Danielle Baskerville and Robert KingsburyPortrait, produced by The Dietrich Group, is a charming dance-theatre piece depicting the ups and downs of an intimate relationship between two lovers, playing at this year’s SummerWorks Theatre Festival.

I’m not usually the type of person who goes for dance-oriented works, but Portrait proved to be a very accessible and beautiful performance, with some masterful athletics behind it.

The one word I would use to describe the choreography in Portrait is “interesting”. There were some very creative shapes, gestures and textures that I have never seen before in any dance show.

The movement is what captivated me and kept me smirking in delight at unexpected little details, like when dancer Danielle Baskerville hovers her back over the floor in mid-sit up, or when her counterpart (Robert Kingsbury) collapses his head in her hand for a millisecond before getting thrown to the ground. The choreography is what made it and the athleticism of the dancers is undeniable.

The show is divided into scenes, each of which depicted different situations and feelings that come up in a classic romantic relationship. Everything from addiction to abuse to lack of support to loneliness. The gang’s all there! Straight away, it’s clear what each scene is about even when the only evidence is a pomegranate and a piece of paper.

The performance quality is commendable, however I would have liked a little more energy and gusto from both dancers. The choreography is executed beautifully, don’t get me wrong, but I feel that the actual performance though could have been turned up a couple notches.

Although the performance lacked at certain points, there is still a lot of authenticity and rawness within.

What really makes Portrait special are the vulnerable and almost uncomfortably real moments between the two dancers. These moments, when Kingsbury stares at us with his deep, solemn, smoky eyes through a projector without a single blink or when Baskerville slowly dresses herself in fishnet stockings, had me squirming in my seat a bit, but in a good way. The show has guts and that’s exactly what I would hope to see from a physical theatre style piece like Portrait.

Portrait is an awesomely awkward look into the average couple’s world. It feels like I’m getting a secret peek into the most intimate moments between lovers like I’m the fly on their apartment wall. It’s thrilling as an audience member.

Although I can’t say that Portrait completely convinced me to start liking physical theatre, it definitely edged me that much closer to becoming a permanent convert. Check it out at this year’s SummerWorks Festival while you can!


Portrait plays at the The Theatre Centre – Franco Boni Theatre. (1115 Queen St. W)

Remaining performances:

  • Saturday August 5th, 05:30 pm
  • Sunday August 6th, 12:30 pm
  • Tuesday August 8th, 08:30 pm
  • Friday August 11th, 08:30pm
  • Saturday August 12th, 1:30pm
  • Sunday August 13th, 04:30 pm

SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.

Audience Advisory: Not recommended for persons under 16 years of age, sexual content, nudity.

This venue is accessible.

Photo of Danielle Baskerville and Robert Kingsbury by Jeremy Mimnagh