by Lynn on October 26, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Created and performed  by Lisa Karen Cox, Maggie Huculak, Raha Javanfar, Amy Nostbakken, Norah Sadava and Cheyenne Scott.

Direction by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava

Choreography by Orian Michaeli

Composition by Amy Nostbakken

Set, props and costumes by Jung-Hye Kim

Lighting by André du Toit

Video design by Kaitlin Hickey and Lillian Ross-Milllard

Sound by James Bunton

Additional composition by Raha Javanfar, Motion and DJ L’Oqenz

Beautifully executed and realized, but for all that rage it’s three years too late.

The Story. From the program: Now You See Her follows six women through four seasons, across a nation, as they confront the forces that conspire to make them invisible. Through movement, words and music, the performers explore their options. Can they stand together against the realities that keep them apart that snuff them out? What will happen if they fail?”

The women vary from a new mother juggling the responsibilities of tending a baby and having a career; a woman with an eating disorder; an Indigenous woman; a celebrated writer of a certain age, a black entertainer and others.

The Production. As with all Quote Unquote shows that have been directed by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava the movement of the six women is vibrant, smooth, athletic and compelling. It starts in childbirth. The women lay on the floor, often writhing in pain; then they do a bridge pose—legs lift up the back as in a bridge.

Each woman speaks her own story for the most part, telling her experience. We hear the pain, disappointment and suffering in the telling.

They are united in their experiences of being ignored and thought invisible. They are glorious in their strength and joy.

There is an extended segment in which women’s accomplishments were ignored in science, the arts, history, finance, business etc. Women’s names were taken off of science experiments, thus denying them the Nobel Prize in a subject for which a man was rewarded. Names beside Nellie McClung were named off for many and various accomplishments.

There is nudity. I don’t know why. A bold singer/performer (Lisa Karen Cox)  gets out of her costume, elated at some news. She gets down to her brief undergarments and takes those off. We soon learn the reason for her elation—after 10 years of diligent searching, her husband has found a black dentist. (The singer is black). She is approached quietly from behind, at the end of the skit, by a naked woman (Amy Nostbakken) who joins her in further movement. (Did she help Lisa Karen Cox get dressed? I don’t know, I always find nudity distracting for some reason.)

Every woman is fit, buff and trim. Surely a theme is that while invisible as people, women have been considered as sexual objects, right? Then why play into that and have them in their under wear and even naked in a few cases? And I must confess the nudity had a whole different context in this show because I was sitting next to Amy Nostbakken’s father. Why the nudity?

Comment. I can appreciate that this show took three years to create, develop revise, refine and perfect. It shows in this polished show. But in that three years, the world passed them by. There have been films, documentaries, television shows and plays citing the many accomplishments of women after being ignored or passed over. Women broke codes that saved lives in the war. Women and their acumen in mathematics sent men into space. Women developed spying devices (hello Hedy Lamarr). While the movement in Now You See Her is so compelling and creates the emotional urgency of the piece, the actual story-telling is old. I know that’s churlish—Quote Unquote is such a vibrant company—but in this endeavor they missed the boat.

Co-produced by Quote Unquote Collective, Nightwood Theatre and Why Not Theatre.

Began: Oct. 16, 2018.

Closes: Nov. 4, 2018.

Running Time: 90 minutes.


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