Eusha (Shortgirl Productions) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Elisa Benzer as Eusha in the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival

You’re very lucky, you know. You’ve been in a frightful accident. But you’ll be all right. Eusha‘s here, the night nurse, the best night nurse you could ask for. She lives to help: she’s got a gift for it. As time passes, you’ll come to understand each other very well. You’ll get better. She’ll make you better. It’s what she does.

As the title suggests, Eusha (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival) is a character study, a one-hander set in a hospital ward. And don’t we all want to be healed?

As Eusha, Elisa Benzer (in collaboration with director Christine Lesiak) creates a performance you’ll remember: a born healer, a determined servant, and a creature who must not be underestimated. It doesn’t spoil anything to say there’s more going on than you expect, and as those layers peel away, it’s remarkable how little Benzer has to transform to keep pace with what is revealed.

In this regard, Eusha is the best kind of mystery: we have all the pieces from the beginning, we just need to put them together. Of course, if you’re clever, you might solve the puzzle in the first few minutes — but the ride is still interesting, and completely unlike anything else you’ll see at Fringe this year.

Squeamish audience members may like to know that, while the goriest effect on stage is a blood-stained glove, the show involves graphic description of a few body horror scenarios, and much of musical director Leif Ingebrigtsen’s excellent soundscape involves various wails and moans from adjoining hospital beds. If you would find these elements disquieting, this is not the show for you.

Coming away, I almost felt less like I’d seen a play, and more like I was reflecting on a campfire story. If you’ve a taste for the things which lurk in dark corners and grab at your ankles from the bottoms of ponds, make an appointment with Nurse Eusha.

Details

  • Eusha 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warning: not recommended for children.
  • 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.
  • The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.

Performances

  • Wednesday July 3rd, 6:15 pm
  • Friday July 5th, 10:15 pm
  • Saturday July 6th, 5:15 pm
  • Monday July 8th, 7:45 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 4:15 pm
  • Friday July 12th, 2:30 pm
  • Sunday July 14th, 7:45 pm

Photo of Elisa Benzer by dbphotographics

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