Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Camila's Bones (SummerWorks)

Wanting to Love
by  Ramya Jegatheesan  

I wanted to fall in love with Camila’s Bones. I really did. The story was tantalizing: set in a dystopian future, the play follows Camila (Fiorella Pennano) a young Latina woman who works in a slaughterhouse in the city’s labour camps. She is foreign. She is temporary. She is bar-coded, and she needs out. Her way out comes in the form of an illegal surrogacy for a barren couple. She bears them a child, and in return she gets to stay on Canadian soil. The trouble is, the couple disappears and the State is after Camila and her 'unregulated baby'. 

Valbuena’s play tackles real issues facing Canada: vulnerable and exploited migrant workers and a barrier-ridden immigration process.  So it is unfortunate that the play fails on so many levels. 

Camila’s Bones indulges in extremes and clichés. The actors over-act and the characters do not know who they are. We are presented with the pious barren white woman (Angela Besharah), the hyper-sexualized Latina aunt frustrated by a long sexual drought (Lucy Filippone), and the nubile and fertile surrogate mother. The women are manipulative and the men are dumb. Sound familiar? 

Within mere moments, we see the pious wife pray and self-flagellate then move to alternatively threatening and seducing her husband. She is a little unhinged and baby-mad, or so we are led to believe. This is a poor excuse for what comes down to lazy characterization. Hysteria is no longer a valid medical diagnosis. Even the “crazy” characters deserve a multi-dimensional treatment. 

If only the problems ended there. First, the script is buried in f-bombs. The word is in almost every character’s arsenal and is used with gusto almost every second line. Are there no better ways of expressing anger, frustration and sexual desire? Swearing has little shock value in this day and age, and gives the play a decidedly juvenile feel. 

The diction in the script is also all over the place. It jumps from accented pedestrian dialogue to elevated monologues where the characters wax philosophic. The shift is abrupt and makes no sense. Instead of characters with distinct voices and personalities, we are handed characters that act out clichés, but withdraw into poetic monologues. 

The play’s one strength lay in Lucy Filippone’s comedic prowess. She stole the stage and had the audience roaring with laughter. But ultimately, it was a struggle to buy into a world where the characters felt like cardboard caricatures. I went in wanting to fall in love with this play, and I left shaking my head. 

The play is 85 minutes long with no intermission, SummerWorks

1 comment:

  1. I was looking for a professional review before watching the play. Now church pastors give reviews to theater plays! so sad :(


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