Review: KEEPER

by Lynn on August 26, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St. Toronto, Ont.

Written by Tanisha Taitt
Directed by Ayesha Mansur
Lighting design by Carolyn Brennan
Starring: Clare Blackwood
Tanisha Taitt

A play about finding the love of your life again.

The Story. Avalon has been looking for Constance for years and she has finally found her. Avalon has a lot of questions for Constance and Constance is not too accommodating with the answers. At one time both were totally devoted to each other. Constance raised Avalon but wasn’t her mother. At that time Avalon’s name was Maggie Sue. But something drastic happened to break up their family.

The Production. The production is simple and pared down. We are in Constance’s apartment. There are two comfortable chairs, a simple table with magazines on it. Posters are on the walls.

Constance enters and seems nervous and expectant. Well of course she is, she’s waiting for the person she knew as Maggie Sue when she was three years old. Since then that child has grown up; had her name changed to Avalon; and is on her way from the airport. Avalon finally arrives, pulling a suitcase after her. The conversation between the two women is guarded and awkward. The facts and truth are slowly revealed; the emotional baggage of both women wears them down.

Both Tanisha Taitt as Constance and Clare Blackwood as Avalon give committed, compelling performances. First time director, Ayesha Mansur stages the women efficiently and keeps the action moving, realizing the deep emotion and love of the piece.

Comment. Playwright/actor/theatre creator, Tanisha Taitt came to the theatre ‘later in life’ than the fresh faced kids who populate our theatre schools. She had been a teacher, educator etc. outside the theatre, but when she became involved in the theatre it was total emersion.

In a few short years she has founded a theatre company devoted to bringing theatre to teenagers to discover their potential. She has been an assistant lighting designer; an assistant director. most notably to the painfully missed Gina Wilkinson, who was Taitt’s mentor. Taitt writes plays, directs, acts, sings; writes music and lyrics and is working on a musical about rape called Force.

She has opinions which she expresses eloquently in blogs, posts, essays, comments etc. She formed Fine Wine Theatre Company to “provide a creative haven for artists who did not “find their way home” to the theatre until age 30 or older.”

Taitt was writing Force when the voices of Constance and Avalon kept interfering. Tanisha Taitt pays attention to voices. Keeper is the result. Mounting the project was quick and breathless. Being true to the mandate Ayesha Mansure is a first time director on this show—in her ‘other’ life she is a writer, actress, choreographer.

Taitt has a bracing sense of story-telling. Each detail in Constance and Avalon’s lives together and apart are revealed slowly and methodically, but never in a forced way. She also has a poet’s heart and mind. Her writing is lyrical, spare and she has created two full-bodied characters we can all root for and believe.

Keeper</strong> plays a short run. The play has something to say about love, estrangement, class distinction, the rich vs. the poor, who is a fit parent and who is not. Worth a visit.

Fine Wine Theatre Company Presents:

Opened: Aug. 25, 2015
Closes: Aug. 31, 2015
Cast: 2 women
Running Time: 1 hour 10 minutes.


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