Room 4 at Scadding Court is transformed into the fantastical world of a child’s bedroom, where the stars are so far away, yet a lot closer than you think. Theatre Born Between, presents Beneath the Bed, an age accessible story about trauma, grief, and hope, playing at at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival
A monster climbs out from under the bed of a grieving girl. He can’t eat her because she’s bruised and will taste bad, so he resolves to make her happy. He has his work cut out for him. Fast-forward thirty years and the monster has located the girl again, now an adult and a mother, and he takes up the challenge again.
The script does not delve into the details surrounding the girl’s loss or the depth of her grief, and I yearned for more story and character development here. However, Erin Humphry as the little girl makes us feel her pain through key moments of raw emotion. I would like those moments to last a bit longer so I can sit with those feelings. Humphry has a great rapport with Graham Conway, who plays the gruff but sweet monster, whose moments of surprise and perplexity provide the best comic relief.
I was impressed by the excellent ensemble work of the cast, the choral, percussive, and musical elements they incorporate – including a performer on the xylophone – composed by Lucas Penner. Bryn Kennedy’s direction is tight, purposeful, and creative and the ensemble delivers precise, choreographed, movement in an unconventional theatre space.
The clever use of lamps, star light projection, and strip lighting create effects such as a starscape, a sunrise, and attractive home decor. I really enjoyed the use of props to create momentary set pieces (e.g. an open window), and the use of prosaic items, like a mop, to create magical dancing characters. I loved the monster puppet most of all and found myself trying to deconstruct its design, so curious about how it was made.
About that unconventional space: chairs are set up in two rows in the round. If you’re short like me, you’re going to want to get in line early to snag a front row seat. I tucked myself into the second row for discreet note-taking purposes, and I found myself with little legroom, craning my neck to see certain scenes. I should note that the company prioritizes accessibility and folks with access needs are invited to take their seats first.
Beneath the Bed is an imaginative exploration of loss and childhood suitable for all ages, ideal for an audience with a taste for the fantastical.
- Beneath the Bed plays at Scadding Court (room 4). (707 Dundas St. W.)
- 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.
- 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.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Thursday July 4th, 7:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 2:00 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 2:00 pm
- Monday July 8th, 7:00 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 2:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 3:30 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 2:00 pm
Photo of Graham Conway, Erin Humphry, Keaton Kwok, Elizabeth Staples and Lindsay Wu by John Wamsley