Fringe Festival Review: Two Doors Twice

Is it fair to hold artists responsible for the interpretations of their works? Who has the right to judge? Once an artist surrenders a piece for public consumption, do they also relinquish their say in its reading? How important is context when appraising art?

These are the questions explored in Two Doors Twice, a new play by Lindsey Connell.

An unknown sculptor and her mysterious muse are curiously united at the turn of the 20th century. A strange and beautiful relationship then develops between the two women. Fast forward to a low-rent art gallery in 2006, where the sculpture born from their friendship, the only remaining evidence of the affair, is being pelted by eggs. The reason: it has been wrongfully charged with malicious intent, mistaken as an attempt to immortalize in plaster Lynndie England's infamous pose. It was the pose that shocked, sickened and outraged the world after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal of 2004.

The sculpture then becomes a martyr for our collective guilt and shame, at the mercy of a public that thrives on sensationalism.

Connell's writing is graceful and perceptive, with many gems of lines providing fodder for thought. "The view of the artist is sacrosanct. We, as the public, should protect them...they tell us who we are," muses Connell's character, The Writer, at one point. But do they really tell us who we are, or do we just use them as a vessel for our own needs, or perhaps as a scapegoat unto which we can project our frustrations?

Kim Purtell's direction works beautifully with both Connell's thoughtful script and the stellar cast, adding depth and grace to each scene. Adilman, Evans and Marie-Josee Lefebvre all deliver strong performances that resonate. Sam Kalilieh, in a few smaller roles, is excellent as well, particularly memorable in the final seen as the Reconciler.

Two Doors Twice is a sensitive examination of art as victim in our tendency towards collective amnesia, in our tendency towards dramatic, albeit groundless, action as quick-fix solutions. "Inebriation is beautiful, blackouts are my eraser of choice," slurs Lefebvre as The Artist towards the end of the play. And, for that one moment, I am startled and my breath is still, for Connell has hit the collective nail on its voluntarily comatose head.

Rating: ****

Remaining show times:
Wednesday, July 12, 7:30pm
Thursday, July 13, 10:30pm
Saturday, July 15, 3:30pm
Sunday, July 16, 12:00pm

Venue 2 - Robert Gill Theatre (214 College, 3rd floor - St. George Street entrance)

[Photo credit: Bryan McBurney and Sunday Night Blues Productions]

The Toronto Fringe Festival features local, national and international companies at 28 venues. Tickets are $10 or less ($2 surcharge on advance tickets) and discount passes are available. Advance tickets sold up to three hours prior to showtime by phone, online or in person at the Fringe Club (292 Brunswick, at Bloor). At least half of all tickets for each performance go on sale one hour before showtime at the venue. Festival runs until July 16. Fringe Hotline: 416-966-1062.

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