by Lynn on December 2, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Backspace of Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Elizabeth Kuti
Directed by Matthew Gorman
Designed by Jenna McCutchen
Lighting by Kaileigh Krysztofiak
Sound by Andy Trithardt
Starring: Julia Course,
Arlin Dixon
Craig Pike

Vivid storytelling done by three worthy storytellers.

The Story. Three people living in different times, tell the story of a Wildman from the sea. The stories vary but the focus is the same. In 1173, Mab is a servant remembering the time the fisherman of Oxford Castle had hauled in a wild man from the sea. He was brought to the castle and in a way tortured to speak and tell the folks where he came from. He looked like a man but his webbed feet suggested otherwise. He ate fish raw. He ate everything the fishermen gave him. He was strung up by his feet. Mab remembers all this and is touched and curious about the man. He didn’t talk so much as squeal. At one point in the story, he is brought out to sea and disappears in the water. All that is left is his piercing squeal.

The next part is on the island of Orford Ness, in 1974. Ben is an Australian radar scientist who is on Orford Ness to try and fix the radar signal. While he’s working on the signal Ben hears a high pitched squeal, like the one heard in 1173.

Finally in 2003, Mog is a teacher who is pregnant. The father of the child left her and just disappeared. Her story also references the Wildman, the squeal and mysterious beings. She has a tough decision to make.

In all three the same creature has affected the three story-tellers. It’s a wonderful mystery, trying to find out if they are connected or not.

The Production. Both designer Jenna McCutchen and director Matthew Gorman have created the world of the play and the characters in it, in a simple way. Each character exists in his/her time frame and is rooted there by sitting in his/her own chair. Mab is dressed in the apron and large dress of a servant. She sits in a large backed dark wood chair with a leather centre to the seat. It’s a grand chair, probably of the castle where she works. It’s definitely a chair of an other time.

Ben is in a brown suit and tie of 1974. He sits a bit in front of Mab in his chair, padded, not as grand as Mab’s but of the time. Last, Mog is in modern clothes appropriate for 2003. She sits in a chair down and to the side of Ben. Her chair is utilitarian. It might be a simple school chair. We get a clear view of all three participants.

As Mab, Arlin Dixon speaks in the vernacular; rustic, rough. There is a liveliness, an innocent curiosity. As Ben, Craig Pike sits very still while the others speak. When it’s his turn, Pike is matter of fact. He is after all a man of science. He doesn’t know what’s going on but is curious about that squeal.

And finally as Mog, Julia Course is the most immediate. She is conflicted about what to do about her unborn baby. She is excitable about the many and various disappointments she has received over time. It is a performance of a woman who is both agitated, and/or confident. It is some of the best work I have seen Course do.

Comment. Writer Elizabeth Kuti takes the Wildman story and fashioned three stories rich in the language of Suffolk (with a side trip to Australia for Ben’s accent), and in the unsettling world of folk mystery. She weaves her three stories together so that you aren’t sure if the characters are joined by this one mysterious Wildman through the ages or not. >Fishkin Trousers, (the trousers the Wildeman was forced to wear when he was caught in the fishing nets) is a quietly seductive group of monologues.

Cart/Horse Theatre presents:

Opened: Nov. 20, 2014
Closes: Dec. 9, 2014
Cast: 3; 1 man 2 women.
Running Time:

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