BWW Review: DIVINE at SummerWorks Entertains with Adventure in a Grim Future
Can you imagine life without water? It's something we take for granted. Water is always accessible. It's easy to find. DIVINE, by Natalie Frijia, imagines a world without these luxuries. Directed by Claire Burns, DIVINE presents this one potential future as a post-apocalyptic wasteland - a wild-west complete with bandits, heroes and spies. A mix of fantasy and adventure, DIVINE is a delightfully entertaining glimpse at a dystopia that is too close for comfort.
In post-apocalyptic Ontario - water is the new money. The population dwindles, dying of thirst. The only hope for survival lies in the hands of the water diviner - a mystic, capable of discovering buried reserves of water. Life isn't easy, not even for the Diviner - who is constantly being hunted by villagers, pleading for a drink or bandits, looking to steal.
Using an acapella lullaby in a minor-key to open a show, is a good indication that things are going to get dramatic. As the animated narrator, Seven (Haley Garnett) steps in and out of character to give context to the piece. Using light to project scenes on to the upstage curtain, imaginative flashbacks come to life on the stage - transforming the space.
English is spoken differently in the future. Their vocabulary seems to have developed by dropping words out of convenience. It sounds familiar, until you start to analyze it. The language they use is basically absent of "determiners" - almost as if context is to be predicted by the listener. It's interesting to have to adjust your ears.
DIVINE is truly an adventure. The play's protagonist, Penn (Amanda Cordner) is a visionary - a symbol of strength. Cordner's portrayal is well balanced and complex, showing the diviner's struggle between outer strength and inner fear. Like any good hero, Penn is riddled with guilt and doubt. The Preacher emerges as Penn's rival. Complete with a maniacal laugh and minions (that resemble the lepers from the Jesus Christ Superstar movie that gave me nightmares as a kid) - Aviva Armous-Ostroff plays the terrifying villain perfectly.
Thankfully, DIVINE is fiction. The only positive thing about Frijia's depressing future is that it's led by a group of very powerful women. When considering the very realistic possibility of life without water - the idea of DIVINE becomes even more frightening. Again, thankfully the concepts are well routed in fiction - for now.
DIVINE is presented by Red One Theatre Collective and Storefront Arts Initiative and is part of the SummerWorks Festival. The show runs through August 13th, 2017 at the Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON
For more information and to book tickets, visit http://summerworks.ca/artists/divine
Saturday, August 12th - 7:00pm to 8:15pm
Sunday August 13th - 1:30pm to 2:45pm
(photo credit: John Gundy)