Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Assassinating Thomson (Fringe)

How Art is Made
by Dave Ross

I’ve been seeing a run of comedy at the Fringe Festival so far this year, and I was starting to feel a need to find something to sink my teeth into. Lucky for me, Assassinating Thomson, while amusing, also gives the audience a great deal to consider during this 75-minute production.

Bruce Horak wrote his play in conjunction with Monster Theatre, and it is fascinating to hear him talk about his painting, the difference between art and painting, and how art is constructed, where it is seen, where it comes from. Horak’s own life story comes into play, as we must consider his viewpoint—as a legally blind person with only 10% of normal vision—and how he sees his art. 

The play is structured more like a literary essay, weaving Horak’s discussions in with a consideration of how Tom Thomson met his end at Canoe Lake in 1917. It is, at times, difficult to make the connection between Horak’s discussions of art and limited sight, and Thomson’s art and his relationship to the Group of Seven. The connection that Horak seems to be making lies in perspective, but it is unclear at times how he desires to use this as the catalyst for connecting his two intertwining stories. 

Horak is a talented artist, and actor, and easily commands the stage and the audience’s attention as he tells his two tales while simultaneously painting a portrait of the audience. This show has a considered narrative, and despite the weakness described above, left me feeling stimulated as I stepped outside myself to consider other perspectives. This is what theatre is supposed to do… add this show to your list, and maybe even purchase Horak’s painting at the end of the show… he needs to get to Winnipeg!

Assassinating Thomson is at the Toronto Fringe

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