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Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Review: Some Frenzied Killing Games (Fringe)
Aphasia, the dictionary tells us, is an impairment of language ability. It can be caused by dementia, brain trauma (a car accident, say), a tumour or an infection. Théâtre Aphasique is a social reinsertion program for aphasics and here they are at the Fringe with this wickedly titled (bilingual) show which arises from texts by Ionesco (whom, in passing, I do not like). No doubt about it, they've set the bar high for themselves.
Aside from being a fully realized production - sound, light, set and costumes (even subtitles!) are by no means half-assed - director Richard Gaulin and his 13 actors (two casts in rotation) were crafty in selecting texts by Ionesco, the court jester of modern theatre. Ionesco's repetition, turns of phrase, dead-ends, and - often - sheer blather is actually commented upon by the difficulty the performers have in speaking him. It reminded me of productions I have seen of dancers in wheel-chairs: the presence of the handicap - within minutes - is no longer a novelty but, instead, actually a separate artistic language illuminating the piece.
Patience is definitely required. But the evening is satisfying. Quibbles? The text could have been cut by a quarter (but which Ionesco wouldn't you say that about) and it would be a good idea for the company to let people leave before they started the Q&A at show's end. (The space was an oven and it got to the point where some resented people who asked questions which had already been answered.) Outside of the Ionesco, you will be moved as each actor recounts the tale of their abrupt meeting with aphasia. This, too, fits in wondrously with the themes of isolation, imprisonment and a mysterious disease in an incomprehensible dystopia.