Mystifying. Hilarious. Smart. Entertaining. Neurotically planned. Expertly executed. These are all words that accurately describe PERFECTION, until everything goes wrong…or does it?Mark Correia‘s show, playing at SummerWorks festival 2017 as paired with The Chemical Valley Project, entices us with every magical move (and those big blue eyes), making for a quality show, as long as you like your magic shows a little stressful.
The Chemical Valley Project by Broadleaf Theatre is a unique take on political theatre. Part info session, part moody projection art, this authentic show educates and tells a heartfelt story about colonialism, environmental racism, and the very real role those forces play in the lives of the Aamjiwnaang people, and in all of us.
Aamjiwnaang is an Indigenous community surrounded by big-money petrochemical plants, and they are suffering both physically and culturally because of it. Co-creator and solo performer Kevin Matthew Wong, intrigued by a protest against pipeline 9, researched the people there to create this piece.
In Aamjiwnaang, Wong interviews environmentalists and Indigenous sisters Vanessa and Lindsay Gray, whose voices overlay large segments of this production. Wong explores the reasons for the protest, the arrest of protesters, the lack of conviction against them, and the greater, ancient toxicity behind it all.
Wong performs as himself, with only the light of a simple mobile clip lamp in his hand, and the nuanced work of projections on both the wall and a medium-sized white cloth draped on a table. He makes good use of this convention, maintaining a visually interesting array of presentations of this cloth. The total lack of any technical issues demonstrate the calm hand of subtle precision this show was clearly built with.
This dark and stark atmosphere leaves me leaning in, feeling exclusively invited to one man’s intimate feelings about a disturbingly broad issue.
That’s part of what makes this show so striking: the total lack of righteous anger that usually accompanies political theatre. As a person who easily leans toward that anger myself when faced with such injustices, it leaves me to discover my own revelations, and in doing so, hold ownership over them. No imposition is found on this stage. It’s so doggone impactful, I can only congratulate this team on their wisdom and bravery to use their unique voice.
The singular weak point of this show is Wong’s tendency to undercut his power with many “uhs” and “ahs”. Perhaps this makes it even more genuine, but for me, I wish he would simply trust the words which are so clearly close to his heart.
It’s my hope that the subtle nature of this show is not lost on audiences this summer. Given the swarm of people surrounding Wong post-show, burbling with lively questions, I doubt it will be. I highly recommend seeing this show for the important reality it exposes. To its diligent creators: thank you.
Perfection and The Chemical Valley Project play at the Pia Bouman Scotiabank Studio Theatre, 6 Noble Street. (Box office is in front, theatre entrance is around back.)
Sunday August 6th 3:30pm – 4:45pm
Monday August 7th 8:00pm – 9:15pm
Wednesday August 9th 8:00pm – 9:15pm
Friday August 11th 6:00pm – 7:15pm
Saturday August 12th 1:45pm – 3:00pm
Sunday August 13th 6:30pm – 7:45pm
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: PERFECTION contains scenes of physical violence, viewer discretion is advised.
Image of Mark Correia by Tyler Williams