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BWW Review: Canadian Stage's MEETING and ENDINGS Awaken the Gamut of Human Emotion

BWW Review: Canadian Stage's MEETING and ENDINGS Awaken the Gamut of Human Emotion

From fascination to fear, Canadian Stage's MEETING and ENDINGS are a rollercoaster ride of insight into the human condition. The two works are part of Canadian Stage's Spotlight Australia, a six-week showcase of cross-disciplinary performance running until May 7 and featuring the works of acclaimed Australian artists.

MEETING features Antony Hamilton's hypnotic choreography, set to Alisdair Macindoe's rhythmic composition of automated robotic percussion instruments which he designed and constructed. The result is an engaging, sensory experience. To say the piece was meticulously choreographed would be an understatement. For 50 minutes - every breath, every twitch had a purpose and was planned.

Hamilton and Macindoe are such a cohesive unit that their physicality skating between the human and the robotic. This effect is enhanced by the identical costumes, immaculate precision of movement and the intensifying trance-like drumming.

The themes being presented by MEETING are completely open to interpretation. In my opinion, it is an examination of evolution - and an alarming glimpse into one potential future.

BWW Review: Canadian Stage's MEETING and ENDINGS Awaken the Gamut of Human Emotion
Tamara Saulwick in ENDINGS. (Photo credit: Sarah Walker)

ENDINGS, created and performed by Tamara Saulwick, is an exploration of death and the afterlife. Haunting may seem like a clichéd description, but that's how ENDINGS left me feeling - haunted. You can actually feel Peter Knight's extraordinary sound design in your body, sending shivers down your spine, while Ben Cobham's set and lighting creates an atmosphere suggesting a space or state existing after death. It is surreal, unsettling and unfamiliar. With a crooning baritone voice, Paddy Mann interacts with Saulwick during the piece, heightening the sense of nostalgia that the work conveys.

I have to admit that I was deeply affected by ENDINGS. Having lost my grandfather only a few weeks ago, Saulwick's piece released a suppressed wave of emotions in me. I can't say that I've ever had an experience quite like that, in the theatre.

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Both works are provocative, powerful performances. They are a testament to the power of effective theatre - theatre that can have you walking out, a different person than the one that walked in.

MEETING and ENDINGS both have a limited run until April 30th, 2017 at the Berkeley Street Theatre - 26 Berkley St., Toronto, ON. Canadian Stage has organized the schedule so that you can see both shows, back-to-back. Visit www.canadianstage.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

(MEETING photo credit: Gregory Lorenzutti)

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