Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Zero Visibility (SummerWorks)

Very Real and Personal
by Lisa McKeown

David Mamet once wrote that it’s in our nature to dramatize things as impersonal as the weather, in order to understand its personal meaning to us as the protagonist of the individual drama we understand our life to be. This show is about a snowstorm – but it’s also about much more than that.  It is about the havoc this blizzard wreaks on the lives of six young women struggling to find their place in what often feels to be a cold and disconnected world. As the characters attempt to get to an audition, a memorial service, and eventually a party, we’re given updates on the storm’s effects by a television reporter, making the storm less metaphorical and more concrete as we see the citizens who pass by, searching for what they’ve lost, both literally and figuratively.
The show is produced by the AMY project – a creative education project that focuses on mentoring young women in Toronto. The production was a joint effort between the six young actresses – ranging in age from their late teens to early 20's – and the creative team who mentor and direct the piece. Part autobiographical, part fiction, the themes are very relevant to young women everywhere as the plot was developed from mutual interests by way of individual writing brought together with improv. 

The set was simple with some neat staging using minimal props, and the incorporation of some neat group vocal effects. Some of the storyline was a bit disjointed and forced (how did the news lady end up at the party at the end? How was one of the actors walking around in a blizzard with flowers?) but considering the daunting task of collaborative playwriting the story does have a cohesion and unity to it that could be polished in time. Each actor has a personal monologue that they share with the audience, covering issues such as body image, fractured friendships, what it means to belong to a community, and what it means to feel excluded from one. The actors all have great potential, but in particular both Sashoya Simpson and Cheyenne Scott stood out as their performances were both very raw and present. All of the monologues seem to come from a very real and personal place for the actors, and is really the essence of what makes this show special. 

Zero Visibility is at SummerWorks

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