FORNES x 2 is a study in numbers. Double-bills, threesomes, small quarters, dollars and cents.
What can a trip to Kensington, down an alley and descending into a hidden, multi-roomed, underground space get you? An inside look at two very unique, and immersive one-act plays by Theatre Asylum, who present you with FORNES x 2.
Asylum remixes Maria Irene Fornés’ works, The Successful Life of 3 and Mud. Fornés’ plays have been described as “raw and alive” and these two in particular, speak to the timeless issues of consumerism, disenfranchisement, and poverty. The stories are very personal to Director Jennifer H. Capraru, a long time resident and activist of the vulnerable Kensington neighbourhood.
Both plays feature Hardee T. Lineham, Michelle Latimer and Jamie Robinson. First up is the darkly comic Successful Life of 3, the shorter of the two plays. Its story is one that has been seen too many times before, and here relies on stereotypical conventions of women in nurses outfits with overly large breasts. It’s meant to drive home the fact that the female in this threesome is mere vacuous, sex-object and baby producer, but it would have been more effective, perhaps, had it been played down.
We are first introduced to the nameless men, He and his buddy 3, followed shortly after by She. Robinson (who plays 3) stands out the moment he opens his mouth—he owns this character. In ten, quick episodes, you witness He fall into the trap of wealth accumulation, and consumerism, while 3 is forced to find (and keep) employment to support himself and his children. She is often peeling potatoes, and becomes increasingly more disillusioned as the acts move forward.
Mud is about another, very dark and twisted threesome, but this play has far more depth and demands more of the three actors who all deliver well. The venue changes slightly for this performance, and the small space only helps immerse the micro-audience (max 30 people) in the claustrophobic world that Latimer, as Mae, inhabits with quasi-brother/partner Lloyd (Robinson), and later Henry.
In Mud, written in 1965, Fornés articulates her dedication and sensitivities to women’s issues, and the struggles that for the most part, are still perpetuated, keeping the subject matter relevant to today’s audience.
Mae struggles to care for a sickly Lloyd, while trying desperately to advance her position in the world. She is quickly taken in by Henry, the older man who at first enchants her, before finally becoming yet another noose around her neck. Latimer’s portrayal of this character was inspired, and a joy to watch.
Mud’s climactic end is a particularly poignant scene that lingers in the mind. Overall, the acting in these two plays is really quite good, and worth the small cost of admission.
Capraru and her scenographer, Troy Hourie, conceived the work as an immersive, site-specific installation piece, set in, and reflecting Kensington Market. The ideals of Kensington pay tribute to the style and soul of the Off-Off Broadway movement, with visceral, avant-garde theatre happening in found spaces.
FORNES x 2 plays through Sunday, June 14. Catch it at 213 Augusta Avenue, Entrance down the alley, last door on the left, below Fresco’s.
For tickets, please visit: http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/fornes-x-2-tickets-16735855394