Think that we close up shop when the Fringe reviews are in print?
No way. There are lots more plays to see.
I spent the first five days of the Fringe in the area I call Fringe North — from Bloor to the Tarragon — while other reviewers saw shows elsewhere.
Now I have the freedom to see works in the venues south of Bloor, and it’s going to be a busy theatre-going time for me until the end of the fest on Sunday.
One of the shows I caught yesterday — and worth your seeing, too — was Baggage, a series of five short works by the Pulang Maleta Collective, a group of emerging Filipino-Canadian theatre artists working with Calos Bulosan Theatre. Baggage is a continuation of script work that began during Tales From The Flipside and the CrossCurrents Festival.
You might remember Carlos Bulosan Theatre for its fine production of People Power last spring at Theatre Passe Muraille. Several of the artists involved with that show are part of Baggage, and seeing them is a reminder of their talent.
The five works aren’t of equal quality, but the evening, which runs less than an hour, is a nice mix of comedy and drama. Thematically, the show deals with the emotional baggage we carry, though there’s also some actual bright red luggage — the collective’s name means “red luggage” in Filipino — at the performance’s start and end.
There’s lots of humour in Reese Baguio’s Touch, dealing with a young dyke’s coming out, and Christine Mangosing’s Claim Your Baggage, in which a luggage inspector and a passenger do their best to distance themselves from their Filipino heritage.
Vincent Galvez’s The Edge Of Family is an emotionally rich piece in which a young woman deals with her jealous mother and two suitors. The writing tips over into an unnecessarily melodramatic climax, but the performances — by Darrel Gamotin and Galvex as the suitors, Mangosing as the daughter and Andrea Mapili as her mother — and the staging by director Marie Beath Badian are first-rate.
Gamotin’s Not My Exotic, featuring an encounter between a prostitute (Caroline Mangosing) and her john (the playwright), is the evening’s most nuanced work. a sexy and barbed confrontation that leaves us wanting a longer scene between the pair.
It’s a treat to see developing writing of the quality shown by these budding playwrights, especially when it’s as well staged as this, by Badian and co-director Karen Ancheta.
One caveat for anyone with claustrophobia — the space in the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for the Arts and Culture is shoebox in shape, with the audience mostly sitting along both sides of the long walls. When it’s filled with some 80 audience members, as was the case last night, you become very cosy with your neighbours. And bring a cold drink and/or a fan.