Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: (Toronto) Crash

Photo credit: Aviva Armour-Ostroff

In the voice of another (myself)
Crash haunts
by Beat Rice

Crash is a powerful one-woman show written and performed by Pamela Sinha who tells a troubling story based on her own personal experience. She narrates in third person but we know from the start that this is her own tale. Perhaps it is easier to communicate when it sounds like the words belong to someone else. The play is one that explores the everlasting effects a traumatic event, not just to the victim, but also to their family. We discover, that there is always more than one victim; we just struggle in different ways, and lose different parts of ourselves along the way. 
One of the most interesting points of the play is faith, and what causes us to doubt it, and how it grounds us.

Pamela’s story-telling is honest, and intimate. She looks out at the audience and speaks clearly, directly and slowly, but not too slowly. We hear every word. There are dance components that incorporate Mahadevi, a traditional, very narrative style of Indian dance. Pamela fuses the movement with the story in a way that is not jarring at all. It just fits. 
The scenes of the play were fragmented, reminiscent of The Girl’s memories. She starts with telling us about her family and her faith. When she talks about the horrible event of the night of an attack she appears calm and collected, but as she remembers in more detail, the trauma becomes evident. Watching this, I feared for her, and by the end of the play, I felt compelled to sign up for self-defence lessons and install twice as many locks and alarms in my home. It also makes one think about how one moves on after such an event, or if one even can. One of the most interesting points of the play is faith, and what causes us to doubt it, and how it grounds us. 
Lighting and set are both designed by Kimberly Purtell, together with video designer Cameron Davis, and sound designer Debashis Sinha. The set reaches from the ceiling to the floor and contains three staircases. There is a single door centre stage, which at one scary point is lit from behind so that we see the shadow of the feet of the attacker. The video elements worked well with the story and the space, a refreshing change to some of the pointless projections I have seen in other plays. This show had a fabulous design that had purpose. The haunting images plus the movements of the projections served the story and worked well with the set. All visual elements made great use of vertical space.
But Crash is a play that doesn’t need too many fancy things, because it is Pamela Sinha’s storytelling that holds the show together. 

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