Ether, currently playing at Toronto Fringe Festival, is a show about what happens in the space between being alive and being dead, that moment of breath between survival and your last one. The show is made up of three interconnected-ish vignettes where people are dealing with that moment between life and death. They all have moments where they wonder where they are, what’s going to happen to them, and re-enactments of what in their lives led them to the Ether.
But not really. It’s two vignettes about the theme which led to the best part of the performance – that of Felicia Valenti’s Myssie who becomes our defacto guide through the place between life and death. Her scene has the most humour, the most melancholy, and for me was the most enjoyable part. I wanted more of the play to be like this.
Not that everything else was bad. The raw emotion of Brendee Green as Indigo was incredibly strong and powerful. When Green switched between being in the Ether and playing the memories it was strong and impactful. Through her performance, I felt very much that we were in a different time and space. What threw me off was that it didn’t really match the tone of the rest of the show.
The other scene was fine. It wasn’t that the acting was bad, but it was more that the subject matter made me kind of shrug my shoulders. Not that at it’s basic level the scene is not tragic, it’s just that I didn’t really care much for Breanna Maloney’s Charlotte and Cassandra Davidson’s Paisley. I didn’t connect with what they were doing, which is sad because Jonathan Widdifield’s Kristoff was just the right kind of menacing sleaze that makes for the perfect kind of foil to garner sympathy. I just didn’t really feel it, which made the pay off at the end fall flat for me.
I guess what I really wanted from this show was either what happened in Green’s opening scene, or mostly of what happened in Valenti’s ending scene and not really much of what happened in the middle.
A previous version of this review mistakenly identified Indigo being played by Esther Vlessing. During the regular run Vlessing does play Indigo, but on the day of the performance seen by this writer Brendee Green took Vlessing’s place.
- Ether plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; gunshots; sexual content; fog or haze effects; audience participation; not recommended for children.
- This venue is 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, 10:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 7:00 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 3:00 pm
- Monday July 8th, 4:15 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 4:45 pm
- Friday July 12th, 7:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 2:45 pm
Photo featuring Esther Vlessing, Felicia Valenti, Jonathan Widdifield, Breanna Maloney, and Cassandra Davidson by Yuko Yamamori