Toronto’s Theatre Gargantua opens the world premiere of The Sacrifice Zone, marking the Canadian debut of Australian playwright Suzie Miller of The Uncertainty Principle fame, and the company’s tenth cycle of work.
Directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas, Artistic Director of Theatre Gargantua, The Sacrifice Zone centers around the pursuit of justice after a fatal explosion in an industry town dedicated to resource extraction.
The story line is simple and impactful, one that feels familiar or would perhaps make a good television mini-series. What was different and captured my attention was the progression which doesn’t follow a typical linear fashion. The story begins in a day-to-day fashion, as the audience learns about the characters and the disaster, and then, it slowly integrates future elements, as if you’re reading ahead and then skipping back. The only story arc in which I didn’t see a smooth flow was the relationship development of the two main children. Their connection needed to be pieced together by the audience. I felt that aspect of the story could have been better developed to provide a stronger link towards the end as all the other story lines had such smooth developing paths.
A small cast playing multiple characters really needs to cement themselves in their respective roles to separate the audience between their various personae, in particular when you need to solicit an emotional connection to them in under 70 minutes. Having accomplished that feat shows the diversity and strength of the cast members Michael Spence, Ciara Adams, Michelle Polak, Joel Benson and Pam Patel. Toward the end, I was surprised someone in the audience didn’t yell out “you ass” at the male character of the company couple – perhaps I did.
I like Theatre Gargantua and their use of new technologies and involving dance elements in their productions. But here, I felt the hand gesturing especially, threw me off. The production would work without them and still have the overall effectiveness. The other staging elements were clever and flowed seamlessly. Possibly the best example of this is the fight scene between the couple, first acted out in silent choreographed dance moves under shadow lights and then integrated into the scene as an effect to showcase the power struggle–brilliant. I love the simple elements, when you can tell the artistic director had ‘that’ moment. And that’s what I like about Theatre Gargantua, those simple developed moments, where you just want to clap in slow motion.
Overall, The Sacrifice Zone illustrates great collaboration and exploration into different theatrical mediums. The show runs until November 30, 2013 at the Factory Studio Theatre. For information and tickets visit www.factorytheatre.ca/what-s-on/the-sacrifice-zone/