Far Away : Pretty Close to Home
Far Away, written by Caryl Churchill, is an experimental piece by Edith Patenaude that primarily works with sounds and lighting. With all of three characters, the piece is spilt into three (somewhat overlapping) parts.
We meet Joan (played by Noémie O’Farrell), who is visiting her uncle and Aunt (Lise Castonguay) in the country. Seated on her bed, she is fear-stricken and sleepless as she thinks she has witnessed something horrific, something that has put the fear of death in her. When her Aunt starts to probe the girl’s inability to slumber, the show slowly reveals that the household and its inhabitants have secrets, deep dark secrets. And while the Aunt is Joan’s custodian, she is equally an accomplice in what is transpiring.
The second part takes place in an office like space, where Joan meets Todd (Ludger Beaulieu). They both work on designing and making these fantastical hats and head gear. While the two may seem an odd match at the outset, slowly they discover that they both have more in common that they thought.
Then the piece goes into a rather long drawn out parade of these crazy headpieces (which Todd and Joan have designed), that push boundaries of imagination. While each of the pieces is unique and very intriguing, this bit is longer than necessary and the music jarring to say the least. The premise is set pretty quickly and after a few iterations, could have easily moved on.
The last part of this has Todd and the Aunt in a verbal duel of sorts. Themes of universal crises and wars where every living thing is implicated and enemies and allies remain undefined, form most of the subject matter. While both actors hold their own well, Castonguay shines. Joan returns at the end for the epilogue.
Overall the moving screens that hide the characters, the large pieces of ‘furniture’ that are moved around to mark space changes, seem quite unnecessary as they don’t really add to the core story. Perhaps directorial choices or the text of the play itself, I feel that the piece lacks a centre, which makes it very hard to connect and engage. It does speak to some very real, pressing themes of the turmoil that is gripping our contemporary world and the battle between fear and justice, which perhaps is a worthy takeaway.
Far Away is playing at Théâtre Prospero, 1371 Ontario St East, till April 15, 2017.