Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Broken (SummerWorks)

Broken isn't just a Title
by Jason Booker

Sadly, what sounds like a good idea in the program guide comes off as a bit dull in the therapy session called Broken. 

Telling the story of his photographer grandfather's descent into Alzheimer's Disease, Brian Fidler - the show's performer and author (sic) - creates an unfocused montage of direct address, memory, flashback and storytelling to create a piece that is relatable but not particularly theatrical or well performed. 

Why the performer/writer conceals his real-life identity (Brian Fidler) behind the persona of 11-year-old William is never made clear, as the play negotiates the difference between reality and recreation. He claims that certain props did belong to his grandfather and that others are stand-ins - a claim that calls into question the authenticity of the entire show.

The stage often feels cluttered as William runs about touching props and showing slides but remains inconsistent; some slides are projected by the stage management in the booth and others using an antique projector. This busy busy piece would have benefited from more moments of stationary thought and honest reflection instead of bells-and-whistles. It also could have used feedback that questioned why the audience needed to be present for the show, why this moment and this character needed to be shown at all. 

Among the devices employed, Fidler plays with a hanging bare lightbulb as an effect that is gimmicky and attractive but overused. He also pulls out a clipboard and gets an audience member to play grandpa to his adolescent self. Sadly, at the opening performance, the gentleman from the first row had a better delivery. And none of these tricks had a strong raison d'etre within the logic of the piece - a play that simply didn't have rules set for how to approach a subject, a person or a style: the ultimate unsatisfying mash-up.

Broken continues until August 18

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.