Review: L-E-A-K

by Lynn on May 19, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Theatre Center, Franco Boni Theatre, 1115 Queen Street W, Toronto, Ont. Plays: May 18, 19, 20, 21.

Choreographer, Sara Porter

Creative collaborator, Katherine Duncanson

Sound by Jeremy Mimnagh, after Phil Strong

Lighting by Rebecca Picherack

Video design by Linnea Swann and Jeremy Mimnagh in collaboration with Sara Porter

Costume design, Sarah Doucet, after Sara Porter

Seagull Dress, Sara Torrie

Performers: Jessie Garon

Sara Porter

Whimsical, thoughtful, witty and provocative. A love-letter to the ocean and perhaps all things pertaining to water that l-e-a-k.

In the words of dancer/choreographer/creator Sara Porter:

“What if I fell in love with the ocean? What would you wear to the wedding?”

And from the press information just to be as accurate for the artists as possible:  

Sara Porter Productions is proud to announce L-E-A-K, a fresh new dance work that explores the ecosexual notions of falling in love with the ocean, inspired by the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world. Choreographed by Sara Porter and performed by Sara Porter and Jessie Garon.

“In L-E-A-K, Sara Porter portrays her experience of the Bay of Fundy through dance, image, and costume, blending her singular style of absurdist stagecraft with serious research about the origin of the ocean, the sex life of seagulls, and the theory of horizons. Delving into the notion that all categories leak, Porter takes an interdisciplinary approach to performance: presenting an interplay between monologue, dance, projected image, text, philosophy, and sound, she evokes deeper considerations of life’s most profound questions.” 

“Sara Porter Productions believes that art is a universal language that should be accessible to all. The organization specializes in creating performance, creative, and educational projects that celebrate play and exploration, with a focus on personal storytelling.”

Sara Porter and her colleagues have provided an intriguing framework in which to view L-E-A-K at the Theatre. I’m not a dancer or know the specific vocabulary in order to describe the work. I do know theatre and its vocabulary and those terms apply nicely to this production. It is a love-letter specifically to the ocean but generally all things to do with water.

We enter the theatre and Sara Porter is lounging there in the centre of the empty stage, sitting on a suitcase it turns out. She wears a blue top with a pattern that looks like shimmering water. Her skirt is light blue. Her legs are stretched out in front and she wears flip-flops. We can hear the faint sound of waves splashing/crashing on a shore. Another character (Jessie Garon) in an illuminated skirt and top pushes a suitcase slowly around the circumference of the space. She is bent over the suitcase (the four-wheel kind) and her movements are slow. Her legs pick up and drop in long, deliberate steps. Is the movement to suggest a tide? Don’t know. Interesting thought.

Eventually Sara Porter gets up and talks about being born in Nova Scotia. She describes how her heavily pregnant mother (she was pregnant with Sara Porter) at the beach, reading a newspaper but it flew away and her mother chased it. This brough on labour but her water didn’t break. That happened at the hospital. Sara Porter describes the breaking of that water in vivid language both linguistic and physical. The breaking of the water was not a gush, but a torrent that sprayed around the room. The force made one think of fierce waves breaking on a rock/beach/shore. It was violent, powerful and eventually lead to the birth of Sara Porter.

Sara Porter and Jessie Garon then create various scenes of wonderful humour, imagination, and whimsy. There is a projection of seagulls gathering on rocks as the waves crash over them. Both Porter and Garon dance on wearing a head piece of a seagull.

When Sara Porter muses: “What if I fell in love with the ocean? What would you wear to the wedding?” She wears a voluminous white wedding dress and Jessie Garon wears a frilly dress with flippers.

There is a video of the two from the shoulders up, in a shower. They tell each other what they love about the other but the sound is not good and one is often in the dark about what is being said. That’s unfortunate. The two then punctuate their comments by squirting the other with a water gun. The scene is sweet, loving, gentle and funny. Wish I knew what they were saying clearly instead of muddled.

Sara Porter describes how one must deal with the tide in the Bay of Fundy. If one wants to swim there are instructions on doing it depending on whether the tide is coming in or going out. Fascinating. The final image is of the two dancing independently, perhaps trying to negotiate the powerful tide.

L-E-A-K is indeed Sara Porter’s love letter to the ocean, water, imagination and dance.  

Sara Porter Productions Presents:

Plays: May 19, 20, 21

Running time: 1 hour and 15 minutes (no intermission) 

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