Tremors Festival of Emerging Talent presents three plays full of complex themes

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Theory, Tiny Replicas, Selfie | Tremors Festival | Rumble Theatre | Italian Cultural Centre | August 16 – 25, 2018

Rumble theatre supports emerging talent through their main mentorship platform, the Tremors Festival. All of the artists involved in producing and performing these three plays are in the beginning stages of their theatre careers, and they have been mentored by established professionals. It’s a model that seems to be working well, allowing the artists to take creative control and have the experience of taking a play from script to performance. Many Tremors alumni have gone on to successful careers in local theatre companies, and some of this year’s artists are sure to do the same. Jumping from room to room of the Italian Cultural Centre, seeing all three shows is an almost four-hour theatre marathon; but it is well worth it as all three are engaging pieces that deal with complicated relationships and messy scenarios with no simple resolution.

Theory

An anonymous, un-moderated discussion group that would allow students in a film theory class to share their ideas freely and openly sounds like a great idea — until one student starts posting offensive messages and attacking classmates and the professor. Isabelle (Elizabeth Willow) is a young, passionate professor on her way to tenure, and she prides herself on not getting offended by anything. She is so open minded, she claims, that nothing is too much for her. Her limits are tested when the discussion posts become personal.

Norman Yeung’s script is brimming with wit and tackles a complex theme well by presenting the scenario and leaving the audience to pass judgement and decide how they feel about it all. Isabelle is determined to stick to her self-imposed discussion group policy: she won’t interfere in the posts and she won’t delete anything or ban anyone.

Isabelle’s students sit among audience members, bringing us into the story as we all tried to figure out which student was “Richard69” on the discussion board. Could it be Richard? Isn’t that too obvious? Isabelle becomes paranoid and accuses each of the students who visit her office hour of being invoved in the personal attacks on her and her wife. When Richard (Jesse DeCoste) comes to see her, she is convinced he is behind everything. DeCoste’s subtle creepiness makes us believe it too. Isabelle’s Dean (Jed Weiss), on the other hand, wasn’t as convincing. When he tells Isabelle not to file a formal complaint about Richard69, his sympathetic words and his position of balancing between keeping both students and professors happy didn’t come across in his performance.

Kyle Stooshnov’e projections of film clips were a highlight and they added to the ominous atmosphere as Isabelle’s life begins to imitate the art she is showing her students. Isabelle’s wife, Lee (Mariam Barry), advises, “If things get broken, follow the rules to fix them,” but Isabelle doesn’t listen until it’s too late.  

Tiny Replicas

Simon and Ethan enlist the help of their friends, Dayna and Audrey, to help them become parents. Simon will provide the sperm, Dayna will provide the egg, and Audrey will carry the fetus — the only problem is that halfway through the pregnancy Ethan has an identity crisis and second guesses their decision to be parents.

Sitting on small school chairs spread out on coloured puzzle pieces in a playful classroom environment, we were immersed in this child’s world. Ariel Slack’s set emphasized the childish innocence and curiosity of Dave Deveau’s script as Simon (Douglas Ennenberg) and Ethan (Alexander lowe) convince their friends to help them make a baby, while managing the wide range of emotions and complicated relationship dynamics that result from their project. Dayna (Paige Louter), a non-conformist lesbian, is happy to help her friend Simon, and Audrey (Bronwyn Henderson) a no-nonsense mother, wants Ethan to have the experience of being a parent.

All four of these actors gave authentic, measured performances, but the standout was Jude (Andrew Lynch), Simon’s best friend, drinking buddy, and therapist. In his bar side therapy sessions, Honest Jude and Supportive Jude gives Simon a range of advice and asks him whether he’s willing to lose Ethan or lose his child. With twice as many personalities and emotions, a four-way baby is much more complicated than they bargained for.


Selfie

A voiceover explains that we all have three versions of our identities: the one we really are, the one we want to be, and the one we let people see. Our online identities are complex and not usually representative of our true identities, yet we all play along and pretend they are.

It’s the first day of school and Emma (Olivia Lang) has just returned from a summer in France that, by all Instagram accounts, was an amazing experience. Lily (Grace Le) has missed her terribly and decides to throw a Hawaiian themed back to school party so she can a) get some great Insta pics and b) try to match Emma up with her brother, Chris (Carlen Escarraga). She knows the two have had a crush on each other for years and wants to play matchmaker. Le is effortless as the dramatic, whiney, superficial Lily, and Lang and Escarraga give subtle, genuine performances.   

At the party, Lily’s plan works and Emma and Chris end up hooking up. The problem is, the next day Emma doesn’t remember any of it. For so long she wanted Chris to notice her and her wish finally came true, but their relationship is over before it begins after he rapes her. At first, he has no idea that is what happened, and, like so many men in this situation, defends himself by saying that he wanted to be with her so badly and mentioning the fact that they were dancing and kissing. Meanwhile, Lily tries to defend her brother and fix the situation the only wat she knows how: an Instagram post.

Emilee Shackleton’s sound design sets the high school party mood, and Emily Fraser’s set emphasize the digital aspect of their relationships with the three actors framed in giant cellphone screens. In one scene, Emma and Lily talk “face to face” through the screens on a video call. Christine Quintana’s script presents the complex themes of consent, privacy, and friendship well and also includes a couple of laugh-out-loud moments such as Emma asking if Lily knows the meaning of “literally” and Lily replying, “I figuratively don’t care.”

As Emma, Lily, and Chris learn, an amazing selfie isn’t always what it seems, and some problems are too big for Instagram.  

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn