By Ryan Kerr
Being fortunate enough to write for Mooney On Theatre, I see a lot of plays. Sometimes I go as guests of other reviewers, sometimes to review myself. Often, I see more than one show per week. And before Mooney I considered myself an avid theatre-goer, never passing up an opportunity to watch dance, opera, drama or musical.
I have never left a show and felt like I did following the Factory Theatre’s spring headliner Night. I sat on a blue velvet couch just outside the entrance and cried. I was so touched by the story, and more importantly, how elegantly it was told, that I was literally overcome.
Night shares the story of a small community in Pond Inlet, Nunavut who are visited by a well-intentioned, but slightly out of touch anthropologist from Toronto named Daniella. The day before Daniella’s arrival, the protagonist, Piuyuq (played by Tiffany Ayalik) turns 16, and she and her best friend, Gloria (played by Reneltta Arluk) navigate a few milestones of adulthood alongside Britney Spears and the dulcet tones of the local radio station broadcast in Inuktitut and English (with surtitles when necessary).
Despite the youth and apparent innocence of the two girls, the dimly lit stage alludes to shadowed details just beneath the snow-covered surface. Actor Linnea Swan’s embarrassing portrayal of neighbour Daniella reminded me how self-serving our desire to help can be, and posed some interesting questions as her Toronto world collided with the frozen North.
Not to be unmentioned is actor Jonathan Fisher’s gutsy performance as Piuyuq’s father, Jako. Rarely have I seen such raw and honest vulnerability.
My date and I left the Factory excited about theatre (after my tears had dried, that is!). We talked about the beauty in both the story, and in its poignant retelling. And we agreed that we would recommend the same magic of Night to anyone we knew.
And then, as Torontonian as it sounds, we chased the show with a glass of cava and a handful of oysters.
There isn’t much time before Night falls – Christopher Morris’ elegant play closes this Sunday.
– Night performs Tuesday – Saturday 8pm and Sunday 2pm in the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the Performance Spring Festival 2011.
– Closing April 24th.
– Tickets Tues – Thurs $30/$25 for students; Sat and Sun $35/$30 for students
– Abbie Ootova in Night. Photo by Andree Lanthier