Sunday, January 20, 2013
THEATRE REVIEW: BODY13
Special to TorSun
20 JAN 2013
Pictured: Pam Patel, Brad Cook
In January particularly, most Torontonians require no reminder that life in Canada is no day at the beach. Which is just one reason why BODY13 — a new work from Kitchener's MT Space (which brought us a memorable production of The Last 15 Seconds a few years ago, you might recall) — proves so delightful.
A collective creation currently playing on Theatre Passe Muraille's mainstage, BODY13 in fact uses a day at the beach as a modern-day metaphor for life in contemporary Canada, filling Jennifer Jimenez's spare and beautifully lit set with Canadians we instantly recognize, be they the simmering exile played by Badih AbouChakra, the frustrated civil servant played by Jessalyn Broadfoot or the uptight and self-satisfied WASP so carefully crafted by Brad Cook. Other characters on their beach include a troubled young woman (Pam Patel) trying to scatter the ashes of a loved one, a young man from Ghana (Tawiah Ben M'carthy) struggling to reconcile sexuality and culture, a sometimes over-eager refugee (Nada Humsi) waiting for her status approval and a troubled young man Newfie (Trevor Copp), fleeing demons from his youth.
It is a disparate group, both in age and ethnicity, and if further proof of their quintessentially Canadian-ness is required, it can be found both in the number of times they apologize to each other and in their skill in a magical game of shinny in which hockey really does become a metaphor for life.
And while they are all eager to embrace a new day, none of them are quite so eager to completely abandon the memories of the past. Yet, slowly, as the day wears on, six of them find companionship and, through compromise and compassion, romances blossom. That leaves the seventh in their midst trapped completely unaware in a world and a Canada as outdated as the heirloom cufflink for which he's been searching.
Under the direction of Majdi Bou-Matar, BODY13's individual stories blossom slowly as the day at the beach unfolds and we learn as much about each of these characters from their interactions as from their actions. Driven as much by highly theatrical and effective movement, supported by original music by Nick Storring, Colin Fisher and Germaine Liu, as by dialogue, BODY13 speaks of the Canadian dream we all share with a theatrical eloquence that is as refreshing as it is welcome. Unabashedly and joyfully sexual, it embraces diversity on all fronts and makes of it all a celebration as they tell us seven little stories about a big dream we all share.
It is not, however, conventional theatre, eschewing linear storytelling and instead, simply setting out a welcome mat for its audience and challenging us to engage with them and, in the process, piece it all together on our own. It's a play as much about what Canada can be as it is about what it is and it is almost certain to fill you with joy. And enough quiet pride to warm you through on a January day at the beach.