Thursday, May 9, 2019


WRING THE ROSES, as part of the RISER PROJECT, currently running at the Theatre Centre until May 14th, is an exhilarating hour of explosive movement and thought provoking text concerning the struggle of mixed ethnicity and gender trying to survive within a complex urban and social milieu. 

The central theme, concerning a young woman's (and her circle of friends) questions and concerns, on the threshold of matrimony, are a little muddled in this dynamic performance, and could use some tightening and clarification regarding the identities being addressed in order to avoid the potential for over-simplified identity portrayals. And yet the power of the performances, coupled with the primary and profound importance of the play's quest, alongside the precise and invigorating movement, moves the overall piece into a promising and exciting form of performance theatre.
photos by Lyon Smith 
ensemble; Amanda Cordner, Eric Rich, En Lai Mah, Brefny Caribou 
 Eric Rich, Amanda Cordner, and Brefny Caribou


The ensemble of four young performers interacting is seamless. Playing various genders, each performer brings life - both satirical and realistic - to a cast of characters on the threshold of adulthood and striving to define their diverse positions. 

The music is integrated with impeccable timing and the costume changes become part of the overall chaos and interrogation - bringing forth many moments of intense and entertaining dance. At times, while the rest of the ensemble is changing in shadowy areas offstage, a single performer takes the stage and turns their visible costume moment into a form of exuberant choreography infused with energy and wild abandon, suiting perfectly the youthful, at times manic theme of the piece. 
Amanda Cordner and Brefny Caribou 

There is a particularly memorable scene between En Lai Mah and Eric Rich as they switch gender with agility and great allure. A combination of great fun, playfulness, and poignancy permeates their smouldering and superb performances as they become sudden potential paramours in a risky emotional setting. 

Their flirtation is both endearing and provocative as both performers embody, with humour but not mockery, intense masculinity and femininity with great dramatic and comic skill. Along with the rest of the cast, they maintain a relentless and entertaining energy throughout, with no fault lines emerging within their varied performances over the course of this hour long roller coaster ride of potential love and conflicted camaraderie.

En Lai Mah
Amanda Cordner (Performer/Playwright) delivers a powerful speech regarding the struggle to negotiate a 'blurred' ethnicity, bringing the central struggle to a fine peak of emotional fervour. This kind of narrative device could have been clarified al little earlier, as there are times when the intensity of the movement and the scene changes dominates some of the narrative import within the fraught and celebratory nature of this 'girls night out' that moves toward a conflicted ending - wrung roses and raw emotion in tow.

Brefny Caribou takes centre stage in a strong and moving moment nearing the end, instilling her overall performance as the central 'bride to be' with an impressive anger and contained physical presence. 
Eric Rich

Given the format of this sixty minute fast-paced rhythmic work, commingling with a finely tuned expressionistic collage of music, performance, dance, and fine acting, WRING THE ROSES is an extremely promising piece of theatre that could be developed further into a longer more conclusive work about significant issues around identity, ethnicity, gender, and emerging sexuality.


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