Reviews from SummerWorks: hiraeth and WHITE HEAT

by Lynn on August 12, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

Continuing at SummerWorks, Toronto, Ont.


At the Toronto Media Arts Centre, Gamma Gallery,

Created and performed by Mandy E. MacLean

Directed by Leah Holder

Lighting by Logan Raju Cracknell

The SummerWorks booklet listing the shows is clearer in describing the story, than the actual production is.  The audience sits in fold out chairs in a circle in a small room. And we wait. And wait, and ditto. A young woman rushes in wearing a name tag which I can’t read, carrying a bag of stuff and apologizes profusely for being late. And apologizes and ditto.  She proceeds to perform what seems like a stream of consciousness gush of the various things that she is frightened by: the dark, being herself; loneliness, not being invited to parties etc. She goes into her dark basement but has a flashlight and writes things on the floor in chalk. I can’t read it because the room is dark except for a flashlight that illuminates the floor but only for her to see. I must confess I’m getting frustrated. There is reference to a father who only seems to sit in a chair and stare. At the end we are thanked and asked to fold up the chairs and leave.

I notice now in the light that there is a table close to the door with a box of Tim Bits on a table. Close to the box is a roll of peel off labels and magic marker on which to put your name. I realize this has been a therapy session and it was the young woman’s turn to speak. Had director Leah Holder had some one telling us we need name tags for the meeting, we would have gladly put our names on a label and stuck it on. We would have known where we are and why we are here.

Mandy E MacLean is an energetic actress but her writing of the show needs attention. The story has to be fleshed out and clarified better than here. Also having a title that no one can pronounce or knows the meaning of until we get the program at the end, is not a good idea. Hiraeth means ‘a longing for home’ in Welsh.

Continues until Sat. Aug. 17, 2019.


White Heat

Written by Graham Isador

Directed by Jill Harper

Sound and composition by Chris Ross-Ewart

Lighting by Kim Purtell

Cast Makambe K Simamba

Tim Walker

This is part of the SummerWorks Lab and so is still in development.

Writer, Graham Isador has based White Heat on the recent violence focusing on journalists as they struggle to write the truth, but have to deal with the hateful rhetoric and worse of white supremacists.

Alice Kennings is a journalist for a paper. Her columns are provocative. She has written that it is quite ok to punch a Nazi in the face. There has been a terrible backlash especially from a white supremacist radio show headed by “The Captain” who couches his invective in such a way that his followers harass and threaten Alice.

The Captain is an angry man. His marriage broke up and he is the sole parent to a three year old daughter. He runs a coffee shop to make money. He rages on the radio. He meets Alice for coffee to try and talk about their ideas and differences. The conversation breaks down because The Captain feels he is right and she is wrong and there is nothing to discuss. It’s true, they have nothing to discuss if both are not listening.

The anger of the two characters does prove the point that there is no meeting ground for discussion. Is that the point of Graham Isador’s play? Does he want there to be common ground on which they can discuss? Questions, questions. Interesting subject to ponder.

Makambe K. Simamba as Alice and Tim Walker as The Captain are both impassioned. Simamba has a clear conviction in her clause. She is fearful of the many trolls she endures but staunch in her belief she is right and her opponent is not.

Tim Walker plays characters like The Captain with a barely contained fury. He just builds and builds in his anger. He is dangerous.  Director Jill Harper has Makambe K. Simamba directly address the audience for the most part. And she has The Captain deliver his radio show from various positions in the space. I wonder why? Seems a bit too much movement here. Something to investigate.

Plays at the Longboat Hall in the Great Hall

Runs until Wed. Aug. 13, 2019.


Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.