Reviews - Fringe 2009

Baggage

By Tom Mackan
Published July 20, 2009

By Sara Weber
Directed by Raymond Louter
Featuring Amalie Ritskes, Sara Weber, Warren Boonstra

Sara Weber has written a fine play. Its story has a beginning, middle, and outcome, and the elements of conflict, surprise and resolution complete the classic structure of the well-written and marketable theatre piece.

In this Fringe Festival production at Pepperjack Café, it moves under expert direction and enviable casting around the capsule-size stage using minimal furnishings, props and costumes.

Set designer Shane Van Barneveld serves up parts of America and most of Europe with two plain benches and a Johnny-on-the-spot-size backstage closet for everything from costume changes to time warping, He is ably abetted by stage manager Stephanie Elgersma.

There are two women, cousins and intimate friends. Lexi (the excellent Amalie Ritskes) and Char (a brilliant Sara Weber). It is present time pretty much. The characters have aged well into their thirties, have marriages and families.

Discontent and restlessness like a serpent in the garden slithers into Lexi's life, and tragedy and disabling grief strike Char. They take off on a long-delayed backpacking kind of tour of Europe to find something, anything - no, wait: a reason to go on living, perhaps.

You must see this play while it is showing at the Fringe. Please. It is directed with knowing skill in pacing, timing and focusing, and the performances are close to flawless by not only the two principals, but by a universal male (wonderfully created by Warren Boostra) who helps us through the time warps and even provides a kind of way out, along with a neat push by a supernatural being not listed in the programme.

Well done, all of it, by a troop of fresh young people for whom a Fringe Festival opens a door to a bright future.

TNgM

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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