This promenade show walks audiences along the endless laneways and alleys of Kensington in search of the truth behind a mysterious disappearance.
Sweet Girl Shrapnel is site-specific theatre at its best: irrevocably intertwined with the forms and structures around it; infused with the spirit of Kensington neighbourhood and its nonchalant, stylish, literary air.
This is in large part thanks to the strong central performance of Xanath Fuentes Natanson as the impish graffiti artist Cabiria. Natanson works hard to balance the figure of a slightly whimsical, sardonic art historian and tour guide with the painful portrayal of a contemporary young woman grappling with her own trauma. The result is an impressively nuanced performance that never fails to engage with the audience and space–as an ambulance screams by on College, Natanson first subtly projects louder, then cleverly allows the sound to shut her up and knock her back a step or two.
Maybe the only thing missing from Sweet Girl Shrapnel is the willingness to fully engage with its own fantasies. The show focuses on the protective fantasies of children’s imaginations: in Cabiria’s world, a homeless woman is actually a duchess, eating birth control gives you super sex powers, and the romanticized tragedy of Anastasia hovers throughout. These moments underscore the show’s themes of denial–especially in regard to trauma–and also help define Cabiria’s character.
With that in mind, the show’s own flights of fancy (an embittered neighbour popping up over a backyard fence like a cartoon; a stage manager calling cues for her sole benefit) feel a little underdone in the colourful world of Cabiria’s narration. If we’re really trying to get the sense of Cabiria’s unique worldview, moments like the stage manager rushing forward to complete a costume change should embrace its silliness and go a little further over the top.
Still, this is a minor quibble. Sweet Girl Shrapnel is a striking, hidden gem. Anchored by the charming Natanson, the show slowly unravels its tangled threads of metaphor and memory, until a garden gate closes on the show like something out of a wicked fairy tale. Cabiria’s fate, however, is unlikely to end in a happily ever after.
(One technical note: audience checks in for the show at 29 Lippincott, but the performance kicks off in a parking lot around the corner. Instead of waiting around to check in at the last minute like a doofus (cough), make sure you get your program five minutes before the show so you don’t end up missing the first minute or two!)
- Sweet Girl Shrapnel plays at 29 Lippincott Street. (29 Lippincott St.)
- 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: Sexual content; Mature language; Audience participation; Outdoors; Walking tour.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 6:45 pm
- Wednesday July 4th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 5th, 6:45 pm
- Thursday July 5th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 6th, 6:45 pm
- Friday July 6th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 6:45 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 8:00 pm
- Monday July 9th, 6:45 pm
- Monday July 9th, 8:00 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 6:45 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 6:45 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 13th, 6:45 pm
- Friday July 13th, 8:00 pm
Photo of Xanath Fuentes Natanson by Colleen Osborn