Everything is Fine (Belladonna Productions) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Picture of Jennifer Martin in Everything is Fine

Belladonna productions presents Everything is Fine, now playing at the Toronto Fringe. The show explores the lasting impact of trauma over a lifetime.

This review is based on the July 4th preview performance of the production

Written and performed by Jennifer Martin, and directed by Deborah Porter Taylor, this show hinges on storytelling. Martin shares impressionistic memories that span decades, beginning in her adolescent years. The central story revolves around a sexual assault she experienced in her teenage years, and how trauma has impacted her life and intimate relationships.

What I like most about this show is the script. While making notes during the show I kept writing down lines verbatim. I believe Martin does the impossible by turning a horrific experience (and the debilitating after effect) into something quite beautiful. There are many metaphors Martin uses to describe the impact of trauma that resonate with me.

I feel like Martin effectively employs repetition in her storytelling. She opens the show talking about a specific image to describe her relationship to trauma, which is cleverly repeated throughout the show. Furthermore, she repeats specific, esoteric memories of her trauma to illustrate how it truly lingers in one’s mind years after the fact. To top it, the title of the show is said judiciously throughout the show to communicate that everything is, in fact, not okay.

Unlike my appreciation for the script, I felt less engaged by Martin’s performance. I felt like the pacing of the show was a little too fast for my liking, often leaving me feeling like I didn’t have the opportunity to sit with every story. Towards the beginning of the show, I assumed the fast pace was intended to illustrate the breathlessness of being a teenager, but this continued for the rest of the performance.

It felt to me like Martin was reciting rather than acting. The show felt somewhat monotone in its delivery; on the one hand, this allowed me to carefully listen to the text, but also often caused my attention to wander a few times. Without knowing anything about their process, I wonder if more work between Martin and Porter Taylor on characterization may make this performance more dynamic.

Furthermore, it was often hard to tell when one story ended, and another began. I wonder if each story could be more clearly delineated (either through Martin’s performance or through greater usage of lighting and sound) while maintaining the show’s impressionistic feel.

Overall, I believe Everything is Fine is worth watching. Martin tells a beautiful tale, which I believe may provide some viewers with a greater understanding of what living with trauma feels and looks like.

Details

  • Everything Is Fine plays at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room. (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 Warnings: sexual content; not recommended for children.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. Check in at the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime, and a staff member will escort you to the venue. Accessible seating is 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

  • Thursday July 4th, 6:00 pm
  • Saturday July 6th, 1:30 pm
  • Sunday July 7th, 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 9th, 10:15 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 6:30 pm
  • Thursday July 11th, 2:45 pm
  • Friday July 12th, 3:30 pm
  • Saturday July 13th, 8:30 pm

Photo of Jennifer Martin provided by the company

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