Reviews - Fringe 2009

Recess

By Judith Sandiford
Published July 22, 2009

Una Aya Osato's high-energy performance is dazzling. She turns on a dime as she depicts her seven-year-old heroine Sherita, at least three other young classmates (hyperactive Henry, snooty Cynthia, ally Teesha), teacher Ms White (our heroine's nemesis), in the battle zone that is PS175, their public school in The Bronx.

Osato, who has worked with such children, shows us their eloquence and their realities, and how school can be an oppressive place for children whose energy does not conform, and whose lives are full of challenges. With the help of projections, Osato gets to play two characters at once (this device works well).

One of the structural frames of the show is a class project to send a video message to President Obama as he starts his futuristic second term. This device is both funny and moving, as the children convey their hopes for a better world amid the chaos the surrounds them.

This version of the production presents this material in a non-linear way, but I think that this works against the material itself. There is one key event in the story that fundamentally creates a "before" and "after" condition for our heroine. Therefore a linear through-line, both for Sherita and her antagonist Ms White, is intrinsic, and should be allowed to drive the play.

Judith Sandiford is a theatre designer, a visual artist, and Managing Director of Artword Theatre. With partner playwright and director Ronald Weihs, she created and operated a performance facility in Toronto, where, for over 12 years, they created, fostered and presented many original works of theatre and dance. In 2008, Artword relocated to Hamilton where it has just completed its season of four original works with a Hamilton theme. Artword is currently working on its plans for its 2009-2010 season here.

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By neapolitana (registered) | Posted July 22, 2009 at 15:23:53

I really loved this play. It resonated truth: that children are honest creative characters, inspiring our lives with courage, hope, joy and far more than we take the time to notice. I can see your point Judith, but for me the non-linear style expressed the myriad of way childrens lives are effected by media, stigmatized illness's, grief, poverty, the eduaction system, and most importantly -our interactions with them. Una Aya Osato and Moises Belizario...you done real good! Peace

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