BWW Review: WAH WAH WAH Is A Necessary And Dynamic Exploration Of Harassment And Trauma
The theatre has been used before as a medium to explore and discuss what harassment is and how it affects its victims. As part of the SummerWorks programming, and presented in partnership with Paprika Festival, WAH WAH WAH is a new perspective on the subject that offers one woman's experiences through a collection of travel stories and striking movements.
Created and performed by Celia Jade Green with direction and dramaturgy by Bilal Baig, the one-hour narrative is a complex, ever-changing thing - much like Green's experiences with harassment. She bounces between the countries she visited during a five-month trip to Europe, touching on sweet memories like her first kiss in Spain and the love she has for the six-year-old girl she nannied in France. At its core, though, WAH WAH WAH is meant to start a conversation based on uncomfortable and painful experiences. It's Green's ability to flip between tenderness, humour, and terror without hesitation that really conveys the reality of the situations she's been in and ensures that the core of the story remains clear throughout the performance.
One interesting thing WAH WAH WAH does is that it allows Green to use her body in place of, and in support of, her words. At certain points in the play her memories become tangled and fall apart, and in those moments Green tells her story through movement. Like an experienced yoga instructor, she bends and contorts her body around a wooden chair (the sole prop on stage), and in moments of shame and anger she pinches and pulls herself around the stage.
The minimal staging of the performance forces attention on Green, but supporting elements do their job in giving the story a bit more depth. Lights (Echo Zhou) positioned above, around, and on the stage offer warm and cool lighting based on the needs of the story and create some fantastic silhouettes. The looping of Green's dialogue (sound design by Phoebe Wang), with the recording piling on new words as she opens up more and more, is a nice effect to really uphold the confusion that's at the core of Green's story.
What sets WAH WAH WAH apart from the vast catalogue of plays exploring trauma and violation is the diversity of content and delivery throughout the performance. There are several truly funny moments, like Green's caricatures of her Aunt Val's advisory phone calls. On the other hand, though, it's a deeply personal, painful look at a woman's experience with the world and how she's consistently harassed whether she's at home in Toronto or on the opposite side of the planet.
It's a difficult story that doesn't just end with Green's perspective. Women around the world face similar problems on the regular, and what WAH WAH WAH does is pose a timely, necessary question that aims to stay with the audience even after they walk out of the performance space - what happens next, and what are we going to do about it?
WAH WAH WAH runs through August 18 at The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit http://summerworks.ca/artists/wah-wah-wah/
Main image credit: Tanja Tiziana