DOUBLE BILL: (RE) BIRTH: E.E. CUMMINGS IN SONG & WINDOW ON TORONTO
Soulpepper’s current double bill, e.e. cummings in song and Window on Toronto is an ingenious mixture of wondrous whimsy and powerful musical adaptation. The first half of the evening features actors/singers/musicians as they eloquently stumble around a beautifully cluttered stage, utilizing a variety of props and musical forms in order to highlight and feature the poet’s iconic work. Anyone enchanted by cumming’s blend of serious poetic thought and light, layered endearments will be taken in by the sheer skill and commitment this ensemble possesses. Highlights include Ins Choi’s brilliantly sculpted rendition of a cummings masterpiece that begins in a slight, quirky voice and ends with full ensemble support as they poignantly pound out the final lines of a very moving piece of sung poetry.
The second half of the evening, Window On Toronto, although very engaging in its blend of rapid fire, fragmented dialogue and extremely clever staging, could use a little trimming as some of the near slapstick moments appear excessive and somewhat lost through a narrow stage window that excludes parts of the audience. Video projections on either side could enhance a more judicious version of the show. The musical agility of the cummings section might have framed the second half, giving it a more cohesive, less contrasting presence in the overall production/double bill. Nevertheless, all of the strengths of the first half of the evening are apparent in the second half as it contains a series of physically complex vignettes depicting the view of a growing multicultural city through the eyes of a hot dog vendor sitting in his truck and watching the characters and the seasons pass.
All in all, a highly original and entertaining evening of theatre from a company that never fails to rise to the challenge and bring consistently engaging and unique performances to its audiences.
CURRENTLY PLAYING ATTHE YOUNG CENTRE (DISTILLERY DISTRICT)