Two Birds One Stone showcases simple yet elegant storytelling in its Toronto return
Originally presented as a part of Why Not Theatre’s RISER PROJECT in 2017, Two Birds One Stone has made a return to the Toronto stage at the Tarragon Theatre. Both playwright/actresses– Natasha Greenblatt and Rimah Jabr–have returned to present this brilliant piece.
Having never experienced Tarragon’s Workspace before, I was delighted upon arriving to find myself in an intimate, comfortable studio environment. As I took my seat, I was unsure of what to expect. However, as the light dimmed and both actresses began their quirky preambles to the audience, the show had already grabbed me. With a subtle leitmotif and a quick change in the lights, Rimah and Natasha had snapped into one of the many characters they would soon become.
This piece centres around the Israeli-Palestine Conflict that started in 1948 and continues to this day. While Jabr’s character pursues an acting school in Brussels to escape the conflict, Greenblatt plays a Jewish-Canadian who ventures to Israel with a Birthright expedition to find her great grandfather’s house.
Jabr and Greenblatt are a match made in heaven–or rather, a match made in a Toronto coffee shop during the winter of 2015, when the two actors first met. The ying to each other’s yang, Greenblatt’s characters were very emotive and frenetic, whereas Jabr’s characters were often blunt and moody. This proved to be a perfect combination making for some hard-hitting comedy, but also some very powerful themes.
Despite being a shorter piece, the writing is tricky, following a non-linear storyline jumping from scene to scene and character to character. The duo pulled these transitions off beautifully almost every time, with only a few moments where I felt myself having to catch up to the brisk pace of the show. I commend both of these women for not only how natural the writing sounded, but how almost conversational it was as well.
Despite having very different upbringings, the direction of Guillermo Verdecchia and the stunning projection design of Anahita Dehbonehie allow the audience to see that these women aren’t that different after all.
The choice to have a minimal set with only a projection screen and chairs made for efficient changes, but also allowed for the dialogue to carry the majority of the detail within the piece. I loved the shadows that appeared on the screen throughout every scene, telling a story of their own. Dehbonehie played with subtlety with these projections; I almost thought they could be made to pop a little more as they added so much to my viewing experience.
With almost magical timing, the movement of the duo seemed to mirror their shadows on the screen. With the chairs as their anchors, the two dared to stray further from their starting positions as the piece went along. Again, this was another subtle commentary on the growing confidence of both female characters within the piece. As the show ends, the stage is left in shreds, but not through a fit of rage as you might expect, but another very powerful choice made by both Rimah Jabr and Guillermo Verdecchia.
Two Birds One Stone was a powerful, quirky, and intimate show that shattered my expectations completely. Through unbelievable staging, powerful projections, and the diverse range of characters brought to life by Natasha Greenblatt and Rimah Jabr, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never resonated more.
- Two Birds, One Stone is playing in Tarragon Theatre’s Workplace (30 Bridgman Avenue) until June 30th, 2018
- Performances are at 8pm through Saturday
- Tickets are pwyc (Pay What You Can) $5-$50 (No one turned away)
- For more details, visit the Tarragon Theatre’s website, or call the box office at 416-531-1827
Photo of Natasha Greenblatt and Rimah Jabr by Dahlia Katz