Review: FINDING HOME: A Salmon Journey up the Humber River

by Lynn on October 16, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

A salmon ‘going home’

King’s Mill Park North, 21 Old Mill Rd, Etobicoke. Playing Sunday, Oct. 17, 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. FREE! Ages 5-10.

Created and performed by Alexandra Simpson and Morgan Brie Johnson

Directed by Rebecca Northan

Original compositions by Anders Azzapardi, Stefan Hegerat and Sabine Ndalamba

Puppet design and creation by Alexandra Simpson, Morgan Johnson and Nina Keogh

Wonderful. Wise. Uplifting.

From the play’s information: “Finding Home is the story of two best friends, who also happen to be salmon from Lake Ontario. Beagle and Sojo do everything together (as true best friends always do) – until one day Beagle starts to change and gets the urge to set off on an adventure upstream, whether Sojo wants to come or not. It’s tough to swim against the current of the Humber River and the two face all kinds of challenges together: fishermen, pollution, sharp rocks, and rapids. Along the way they learn what it means to ‘reach maturity’, what it means to be a real friend, how beautiful it is to complete your life cycle, and why salmon really are the rockstars of the fish world!”

This wonderful production takes place, outdoors, on the grass of this park, just down a road to the side of the Old Mill Inn. I arrived very early.  Alexandra Simpson and Morgan Brie Johnson were sitting on one of the sitting mats, applying their make-up for the show, using a simple hand-held mirror (ah the glamour of the theatre). They moved to behind the covering of their band to get into their salmon costumes. (Kudos to the designer!)

Sojo (Morgan Brie Johnson) and Beagle (Alexandra Simpson) are energetic, frisky, irreverent and have their own special code of communicating. Their special code involves flapping hands and bumping bums with stuff in between. Their philosophy of life is simple and direct: “Swim fast. Lay eggs. Leave a beautiful corpse.” It sounds dark but it isn’t. When Beagle begins to change Sojo doesn’t know what’s happening. She knows that she must be there for her friend. Now Beagle is ravenously hungry so Sojo tries to help here. Beagle wants to go on a trip from Lake Ontario up the Humber River. She doesn’t know why. She just does. Sojo follows her. Along the way the friends are separated. Sojo is desperate to find her friend. An unlikely ‘elder’ explains what has happened. Beagle has gone to lay her eggs. Sojo is a bit too young at that point. The ‘elder’ explains this in the kindest, gentlest way. It is the miracle of life and it’s beautifully told without a hint of sadness or regret.   

Finding Home: A Salmon Journey up the Humber River is a wonderful show about life, friendship, love, maturity, birth, death, decay and renewal. It is directed with joyous vitality and imagination by Rebecca Northan. Sojo (Morgan Brie Johnson) and Beagle (Alexandra Simpson) slowly waive their arms behind them suggesting fins moving in the water. Beagle gives birth with Sojo coaching her and supporting her, as loved ones do. Fertilizing the eggs is a thing of beauty. All of this bubbling imagination comes from Rebecca Northan and her gifted creators.

It’s inspired to present this mere meters from  the Humber River where kids can see the salmon swimming/jumping up river or a “beautiful corpse” in the water that replenishes the river banks and air.  

Kudos to Animacy Theater for creating such a gift of a play and for Theatre Direct for bringing it into vibrant life.

Theatre Direct presents an Animacy Theatre Collective production:

Plays until: Oct. 17, 2021 at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm

Running time: 1 hour: 40 minutes for the production and then a short Q and A.

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