The Arts

Toronto Fringe/Next Stage Theatre Festival – The Grace Project: Sick

Toronto Fringe/Next Stage Theatre Festival – The Grace Project: Sick featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

The Grace Project: Sick
Toronto Fringe/Next Stage Theatre Festival
Created and directed by Judith Thompson
Co-created and directed by Lauren Brotman
Performed by the 14-member ensemble
Factory Theatre, Jan. 5 to 16, 2011

As well as mounting the huge summer event, the Toronto Fringe brightens up the dark days of winter with the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Next Stage is a little more refined because companies submit proposals. Nonetheless, it is still an exciting “take your chances” kind of event.

Judith Thomson is one of Canada’s most distinguished playwrights. Latterly she has become interested in devised shows, which means productions created from scratch. In the show Sick, Thompson has brought together 14 young people, from teenagers to twentysomethings, professional actors and amateurs both, to tell their personal stories.

On one level, the show is a conventional ensemble piece of choreographed talking heads, but on another level, it is a very disturbing production. The problems these young people face are monumental.

The title Sick refers to both actual physical illnesses as well as malfunctions of the soul. It’s the courage of the performers that shines through.

Next Stage Theatre Festival continues at Factory Theatre until Jan. 16.

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