Leave behind your past. Let go of societal rules. Awake your inner truth and join “The Way” with Theatre By Committee in Wagon Play. Half-cult and half-concert, playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
“The Way” believes in abolishing history and humility. With the omnipotent stage presence of Amber Moon (Emma Banigan), pop-princess turned modern-day “guru”, she is here to gather new followers in her on-going pilgrimage towards inner truth. Amber Moon and pop-culture saints are worshiped during this ceremony—are you worthy to stand among them?
Devote disciples (Brendan Kinnon, Jonathan Walls, Katherine Cappellacci, Alexis Gontan, Lindsey Middleton and Brandon Gillespie) of Banigan greet audience members at the gates of Majlis Arts Garden with open hearts, and guide patrons into a beautifully decorated outdoor temple. The followers of “The Way” resonate with inner light, excited for the arrival of their leader. They rank audience members into the seven tiered ranking system of the cult, called “levels of truth actualization” – apparently my truth level is the lowest ranking of “total truth denial”.
This level system organizes where the audience sits for the “Resetting Ceremony”. Banigan, with the highest level, sits on her velvet throne and will level-up only one of her followers closer to “full truth actualization”. Photography and filming is in encouraged throughout the ceremony so that the company is immortalized on all social media platforms with the hashtags #theway and #liveyourtruth.
It’s through the “six freedoms“ that the ceremony is structured on. Each follower is assigned one of the six freedoms, and applies that ideology to their favourite celebrity. Members embody their celebrity and perform their worth to Banigan in various mediums of performance.
It’s a treat to watch every one of them, as they all deserved to level-up. From Kinnon’s drag performance of Cher to Cappellacci’s Kardashian re-enactment, the ensemble excels to the moon and back.
Each acolyte is in conflict with their past and newly awakened self. This reads well onstage. They all have hidden stories that create allegiances within the cult. Higher leveled members look down on the newer members ones, adding conflict and competition.
The smallest asides and glances hint at the commitment that followers have pledged to their leader. These characterizations solidify the world of the play and push the storytelling in a compelling direction.
From Banigan’s grandiose entrance to the dark twist at the end, Wagon Play paves the way for entertainment this Fringe Festival. With Cher being a singular name recognized around the world, soon Banigan will join that prestigious hall of fame.
- Wagon Play plays at the Majlis Art Garden. (163 Walnut 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: Audience participation; Mature language; Outdoors.
- 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.
- Friday July 6th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 8:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 5:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 13th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 8:00 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 5:00 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 8:00 pm
Photo of Lindsey Middleton, Brandon Gillespie, Emma Banigan, Alexis Gontan, Jonathan Walls, Katherine Cappellacci and Brendan Kinnon by Owen Fawcett