Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Windfall Jelly (Fringe)

A Simple Story Told In a Complex Way
by Robyn Lester

Friday afternoon I went to watch Windfall Jelly, written and directed by Eleanor Crowder. This play was very interesting. The story line was simplistic, essentially telling the story of a couple who are falling out of love - or rather, one party is falling out of love with the other. It’s not a new story.  It’s been told over and over again, but the way Eleanor Crowder explores this theme in Windfall Jelly is unique and complex.

Right from the start, the play demanded my attention. The show began with all the actors on stage, rhythmically repeating the word “apple” as they paced around in a beautifully coordinated pattern. The rhythm faded, and the story began.

As the story of Charlie (Will Somers) and Jocelyn’s (Anna Lewis) relationship unfolds, it is punctuated by Friedl’s (Rachel Eugster) instructions on making apple jelly. These verbal instructions acted as an element of stability throughout the play, adding order and consistency into a story of chaos and change.  At times the instructions would transform into another rhythmic chant that helped contribute to the atmosphere of the next scene. 

It is a complex piece.  Something I’d need to see again to really absorb. There were certainly many levels of conflict, both between Charlie and Jocelyn, but also between Jocelyn and her parents-in-law.  There was a sort of push and pull between tradition and change. 

The actors did a tremendous job. The set was fantastic, equipped with a partial roof that worked well for the dramatic lightning scene.  

Although the pacing was solid, with the conflict building to a dramatic climax, I think the play would benefit from a bit more relationship development between Charlie and Jocelyn. 

It may not appeal to everyone, but it appealed to me. Although billed as a black comedy, I didn’t quite get that vibe. To me it was poetic, graceful, and also sort of abstract, which I enjoyed greatly.

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