Summerworks reviews: ‘Little One’, ‘Hooked’, ‘White Rabbit, Red Rabbit’

by Susan Down

Little One
Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
Rated: 7/10

The new work by acclaimed playwright Hannah Moscovitch (The Russian Play) doesn’t disappoint as it leads the audience through an uncomfortable story that, like the car accident, we can’t turn away from. Actor Joe Cobden is superb as the storyteller, Aaron, a long suffering teenage brother whose adopted sister Claire (played by Michelle Monteith with a wonderful reined-in neurotic flourish) is emotionally disturbed due to an early childhood featuring unnamed abuses that are never spelled out but only alluded to (making them all the more horrifying).

Director Natasha Mytnowich has fashioned a taut and suspenseful production through limited lighting and movement and body language that offers a spooky subtext. While the plot pieces didn’t fit completely satisfactorily – the story of the next door neighbours seemed out of context – the play felt as though it was an early version of what would eventually be part of a full length drama. It was powerful enough to compel the audience to see it again when that time comes.

Hooked
Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille backspace
Rated:  7/10

The voices of four famous women – writers Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles and Elizabeth Smart, and British socialite Unity Mitford – are woven together into a fine piece of theatre. The result is poetic because Carolyn Smart has taken four of the seven poems from her acclaimed book of poetry, also called Hooked.  While the piece demanded more of a framework to hang in on and introduce it, the characters were deftly drawn, brought to life by veteran actress Nicky Guadagni , who was incandescent as she inhabited four diverse women ravaged by addiction.  Director Layne Coleman works magic with the piece in a compact theatre space.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
Venue: The Theatre Centre
Rated: 6/10

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour has created a very unique tale in a theatrical genre all its own. Developed by Daniel Brooks of Necessary Angel and Ross Manson, artistic director of Volcano, the play features a different performer for each of the six shows. I attended for Eric Peterson’s capable delivery. What makes it unusual is the fact that each actor knows as little as we do about the play and will receive the script in a sealed envelope moments before the performance. The result is fresh and interactive – the audience volunteers perform in a parable that appears to be an Aesopian kind of social commentary.  The ending is unsettling and the audience responded with concern at the performance i attended.

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