Review: Wildfire

by Lynn on June 5, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Factory Theatre, Toronto, Ont. until June 19.

Written by David Paquet

Translated by Leanna Brodie

Directed by Soheil Parsa

Set and lighting by Kaitlin Hickey

Costumes by Jackie Chau

Sound design and composition by Thomas Ryder Payne

Cast: Paul Dunn

Soo Garay

Zorana Sadiq 

A wildly imaginative dark, moving play of finding one’s place and sometimes a soulmate.

The Story. Claudine, Claudette and Claudia are sisters with a troubled past. Their mother kept harping at them as they grew up, “I SHOULD HAVE USED AN IUD!” Not exactly endearing words you want to hear from your mother. Each sister had issues. Claudette was so protective of her young son she kept him in a cage. Claudia had a secret affair with her mailman, got pregnant but no one knew because she never went out, and when the child was born, she put him in a box and mailed him first class to a family she thought would be a better mother. Claudine made cookies for comfort—really bad cookies. Tragedy struck the family when a terrible fire broke out—deliberately.

Callum and Carol are two lonely people who meet by chance, bond, fall in love and truths are told. Callum has a deep secret he tells Carol. She is understanding.

Caroline is the last character in supposedly this group of disparate characters. She’s really angry. Slowly, gradually the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end and we connect the dots….

The Production. Soheil Parsa is such a gifted, elegant director and it’s all so brightly illuminated in this darkly brooding, imaginative production. We first meet Claudine, Claudette and Claudia in the first scene as they each take their separate space—they live separately in the same triplex so separating them into their space makes sense. They fully clothed except for their feet. They are all barefoot. I love that sense of ‘ceremony’ in the theatre, that the stage is sacred and no shoes or socks should mar the floor—hence bare feet. If that wasn’t the intention, no matter, I assume that ceremony of respect.

Soo Garay as Claudette is a bit timid, fearful and of course a little ‘mad’ as she keeps her son in a domed cage. Garay is so very funny because she plays Claudette so seriously. Zorana Sadiq as Claudia is also serious but with a hint of irony. She lives her life and shoots off comment without hesitation. She certainly has words about her two sisters. She is not apologetic in anyway about her odd life and has taken control. As Claudine, the cookie-baking sister, Paul Dunn is wonderful—you read that right—Paul Dunn plays Claudine. He is sweet, unobtrusive, shy, fragile and endearing. They all are. All three sisters are so weird, so isolated and damaged by their mother and life, you can’t help but love them.

As Callum, Paul Dunn is buoyant at meeting his soulmate, Carol. He is lively, determined and upbeat. We sense he might be hiding a dark past, but he fights against it. As Carol, Zorana Sadiq is agreeable, anxious to please, able to stand up for herself, but forgiving. And finally, As Caroline, Soo Garay is a force of bitterness, negativity and disappointment.

The cast is wonderful in realizing this wild play, under Soheil Parsa’s able, sensitive, bold direction. Kaitlin Hickey’s set is very spare but the lighting is so evocative of the darkness in these characters lives. Thomas Ryder Payne’s soundscape is perfect in putting us in that strange other-worldly-world.

Comment. Playwright David Paquet has written a wild play of characters who need and want to belong and fit in and that will never happen because of the life that has been foisted upon them by an uncaring mother. Claudine, Claudette and Claudia live their mother’s animosity every day even though she’s not there. They bicker with each other and yet stick with each other. We see how relationships are so difficult when a character carries around the baggage of their past. The language is intoxicating and kudos to Leanna Brodie’s translation for realizing that linguistic dazzle. The language pops, sizzles and fizzes. The actors inhabit and enliven each character in different ways. What a bracing, engaging, moving, unsettling production and experience in the theatre. It’s what we go to the theatre to see. Bravo.

Factory Theatre presents:

Plays until June 19.

Running Time: 70 minutes

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