Selkie, by high school student Isabelle Hinch, was chosen as this year’s SummerWorks workshop production from the Sears Drama Festival regional finals. The play received a reading at the Factory Theatre Rehearsal Hall, directed and performed by professionals. It’s the story of two sisters in a small fishing village, one of whom pursues romance and a mythical creature (a selkie appears as a seal in water but takes human form on land, and is not to be confused with a portrait taken of oneself via outstretched arm). It is also entirely in French without subtitles, a language I have used but not officially studied for more than a decade, so if I’ve missed any nuances or details, the fault is mine.
The story, like a straightforward folktale, gives us love, mystery, family secrets and accusations of witchcraft. Director Djennie Laguerre and the actors did an admirable job of conveying the story to even an intermediate Francophone like me, despite the characteristic limitations of a reading (lack of physical cues, the occasional doubling of roles). The rehearsal hall was blazingly hot and I wished I could slip, like a selkie, under cool waves, but the performances remained engaging. SummerWorks graciously provided bottled water.
What was equally refreshing was the play’s willingness to interact with types (the wise grandmother, the lovestruck ingenue, the rich potential fiance) without making any of them cliche or unsympathetic. There’s a warmth to the play that I don’t think is just from the heat wave. In particular, it’s nice to see things from the perspective of the sister rather than the young lovers (though her lovelorn sister’s song was a showpiece), as the theme becomes one of her questioning her perceptions and prejudices, and her eventual ability to let go.
For the few of us who braved the heat, this was a charming reading. I think I might have to go brush up on my French.
- Thursday August 11th, 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM
Tickets were free of charge. Most individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Youth Series tickets are $10, Live Art Series ticket prices vary. Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
Image provided by the company