Review: KIVIUQ RETURNS: An Inuit Epic

by Lynn on January 23, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At The Tarragon Theatre, Mainspace, Toronto, Ont.

Created by the Qaggiq Collective

Directed by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

Costumes by Looee Arreak

Sound by Chris Coleman

Projection designed by Jamie Griffiths

Lighting by Rebecca Picherak

Cast: Keenan Carpenter

Vinnie Karetak

Avery Keenainak

Charlotte Qamaniq

Christine Tootoo

Natar Ungalaq

A sensitive, joyous look into another culture’s traditions, stories and legends, done entirely in Inuktitut. The message and stories are clear because of the honesty in the telling.

Director Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory begins the detailed program notes with her own. She writes: “Inuktitut is the language of Kiviuq Returns. Let it wash over you. Look for the intent, listen for the emotion, hear the cracks in the smiles, the lines of sorrow. Feel the corners and curves of our holophrastic way of speaking…Inuktitut is a river; it flows from a lake that is our histories and dreams, it bends around the land that is our daily lives, hardships and joys and it pours into the ocean that is the working of our minds, our creativity. With this performance we immerse you in our language…Inuktitut.”


The program explains: “Kiviuq is the eternal wanderer; the legendary hero of Inuit stories from across the Arctic…In this theatrical retelling, Kiviuq journeys by qajaq (kayak) encountering shape-shifting animals…he calls on his spirit guides to find his way.”

There are songs that are sung that intersperse the stories. There is a story of a bullied orphan who changes shape and learns to fend for itself; scenes with a fox; a scene in an animal den; there is a battle with a bee woman; one with a goose wife, a goose dance and other magical encounters.

Water of course is vital to the life-blood of the Inuit and so director Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory has various screens placed around the set onto which are projected scenes of ocean water flowing; we hear the sound effects of lapping water; elder women are projected on a screen as they recite poetry or sing a traditional song.

Looee Arreak’s traditional costumes are beautiful in conjuring another world that is unknown to us. Rebecca Picherack’s lighting is moody, calming and almost seems to shimmer.

The cast of six are graceful, playful and so convey the mystery and mysticism of the stories the audience is quietly beckoned in to that new world.

Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic  is a wonderful piece of theatre

Tarragon Theatre presents:

Began: Jan. 4, 2019.

Closes: Jan 27, 2019.

Running Time: 90 minutes, approx.

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