Crave (Crave Collective and Pure Carbon) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Picture of Liz Der and Breanna Maloney in Crave

Crave (Crave Collective and Pure Carbon) playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival

Sarah Kane’s Crave is a visceral text that dives into the human psyche. It surely is not to be messed with. With a long list of themes revolving around rape, sexual assault, abuse, child abuse, pedophilia, eating disorders, suicide and mental illness (phew, what a list), the first question to Crave Collective and Pure Carbon is: how the hell to approach these topics with audiences?

The structure is an all-out attack of biblical references and vulgar language. Kane gives little to no stage direction in this non-linear script. Even characters are given no context on their gender or identity. It’s Director Katy Murphy’s clear vision that successfully navigates the ensemble to unpack this fragmented text. 

Performers Wayne Burns, Liz Der, Breanna Maloney, and Laura Meadows begin the show on a bare stage in the Tarragon Extra Space. All wearing denim apparel (by Wayne Burns), they stand ready to face this dark world of anxiety, fear, and loneliness. 

It’s clear early on that this is going to be a, “if it doesn’t make sense, then you understand” kind of a show. 

The physicality that Murphy devises with the ensemble makes the text easy to digest. The synchrony of the actors is spot on, and it allows the focus of the text to easily flow. Back and forth, this balanced ensemble takes turns with grotesque movements to reflect the shocking content. Burns steamrolls through an evocative monologue without skipping a beat while Der, Maloney, and Meadows perform their actions of suffering quite effectively. 

The lighting design by Chin Palipane cuts the stage strategically. In lieu of a set, Palipane frames the stage to highlight the power dynamics and changes in allegiances between characters. The stakes of these mini-scenes are heightened with intuitive mood colouring. Without it, we would be literally and figuratively lost in the dark. 

There are flashes of relief, thankfully, as the characters and audience need pause to reflect on these scarring events. The pace in-between these triggering and poetic moments is where the show shines at its brightest. It’s these gems that push the idea that society needs to talk about heavy feelings surrounding mental health so that we can all “begin again”.

The actors and creative team extend an invitation to all audience members to discuss any of the content discussed in the show. They encourage a safe space, so you may approach any of them at the PostScript Fringe Patio at Bathurst and Dundas to talk about their process in approaching these sensitive topics. 

If you are able to go along on this journey with the Crave Collective and Pure Carbon, then you will find a cohesive team that will satisfy your craving for compelling theatre. 

Details

  • Crave plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
  • Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for minors; Sexual content; Mature language.
  • This venue is barrier-free. Patrons who use wheelchairs or who cannot climb stairs are seated in the front row.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.

Performances

  • Wednesday July 4th, 6:15 pm
  • Saturday July 7th, 12:15 pm
  • Sunday July 8th, 10:30 pm
  • Tuesday July 10th, 4:30 pm
  • Wednesday July 11th, 6:00 pm
  • Friday July 13th, 9:30 pm
  • Sunday July 15th, 7:45 pm

Photo of (left to right): Liz Der & Breanna Maloney by John Brodie