Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: (Toronto) X (SummerWorks)

Technical Delight
by Jason Booker

Sunny Drake's X, a show that the performer claims is not autobiographical, combines puppetry, projections, song, stop-motion animation, dance, monologue and meta-theatre to tell the story of a pair of queer siblings, Jamie and Caitlin, in Australia each dealing with their own addictions: sexual and alcohol-related.

The puppetry is deft and adorable and worthy of the admission. But the projections are what drew gasps of delight from the audience. Seamlessly woven into the visual narrative, the animations continue exactly where the characters leave off, metaphorically illustrating their internal lives.

X occasionally takes on too many characters: maybe one too many to remember and it becomes tough to juggle them all equally. The show occasionally wanders off-subject, slowing down just when it feels as if it should speed up. The performer's introduction of the show and entrance into the show are distracting and a bit clumsy and the final moments seemed extraneous.

Drake, as writer and performer, charms an audience with friendly ease, awareness and his clever take on this allegorical world where alcohol becomes prohibited and offenders are branded with a red A. Occasionally his performance slips into being one-note but he clearly would be a joy to meet over a drink. 

Off-beat and unique, X, with its technical strength and design, really does mark the spot.

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