Night Feed, produced by Canvas Sky Theatre and playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, takes place in the exhausted fever dream of a new mother’s late-night breast feed. In this production, household objects come to life, anxieties are real, and dust bunnies have sex behind the couch.
I’m not a mother, but this play conveys what I can only imagine to be the strangeness, exhaustion, isolation, and anxieties of parenthood. The baby is a puppet, its body swaddled in blankets. Constantly nursing through the whole play, it is an ever-present reminder of how life has changed (puppet construction by Shawna Reiter and Jonathan Davis).
The objects in the mother’s (Corinne Murray) apartment voice her own anxieties and bring to light the expectations of motherhood. The social pressures, the career pressures, the family pressures. Everything comes to a head in this terrifically weird, riotously creepy production.
At times the mother retaliates. Maybe sitting up alone in the middle of the night with chaffed nipples isn’t “the most sacred time of your life”? I roared with laughter as the breast pump came alive with stories of pumping at work: “this is what having it all looks like”.
Vestiges of the mother’s world pre-baby try to tempt her away from the breastfeeding bundle. Her bike, rusting outside on the balcony, weaves tales of magically muddy nights biking in the dark after drinks. A bottle of Jack Daniels cajoles the mother: it’s been so long… nine months… come on.
Ginette Mohr (puppeteer and associate director) and Sarah Joy Bennett (puppeteer, director, and writer) are side-splittingly funny as they bring objects to life in a huge range of demeanours, voices, and accents. The pair masterfully personify books, bottles, breasts, and much more.
Corinne Murray is exceptional as a mother trying to navigate her inner voice, while simultaneously puppeteering the baby. Worried, anxious, defiant, and resolute. Murray fiercely takes us through the paces of sleep deprivation with an infant.
As totally unnerving as it is hilariously funny, Night Feed is an ingeniously creative look at a night alone with a new baby.
- Night Feed plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; not recommended for children.
- This venue is barrier-free. Patrons who use wheelchairs or who cannot climb stairs are seated in the front row.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday July 5th, 8:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 7:00 pm
- Monday July 8th, 6:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 2:30 pm
- Friday July 12th, 6:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 10:45 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 2:30 pm
Photo of Ginette Mohr, Corinne Murray, and Sarah Joy Bennett by Dahlia Katz