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Theatre In Focus: Twilight Cafe

The Theatre Centre was to have closed last year and, as it would seem with many of the theatres in Toronto, was to become part of the new Condo-mania that has swept the land. Still, though, shows continue to be produced in its almost perfect second stage, renegade, underground environment hidden behind the Great Hall at Queen and Dovercourt. The atmosphere is one of seclusion and intimacy. The facilities however are top notch and walking into the theatre one always gets the sense of its professional atmosphere. So it was with great pre-enjoyment that I was able to return to it to see Theatre Archipelago's newest production of Twilight Cafe; a two-hander about love and abuse and control and redemption.

Twilight Cafe surrounds Stanley and Sara, two lovers caught between the cultures of the past and present day Caribbean experience. The show begins when Sara returns to the small restaurant her ex-husband runs to discuss their lives and their pasts. Through the next 90 minutes we are subjected to their pain and joy as they take us through both their lives' histories in an attempt to find meaning to who they once were, who they are and who they can never be. From passionate love to outright violence the play runs the gambit of emotion and shows us the various sides to relationships, good bad and ultimately... ugly.

"I wanted to explore contemporary Caribbean man and woman politics. How we are keeping up or not keeping up", says director Rhoma Spencer. "That the old tactics of warrior hood no longer serve the contemporary Caribbean man and he has to reinvent himself to stay on par with his woman. The woman's liberation movement gave women the ideology of equality to man, but man has not been given any strategies to deal with this new independence."

The piece is played in various manners, at times very straightforward and at times in unique stylized movements and sounds. Watch for the bit with the river of silk!!!! The lighting helps to punctuate the rapid changes of time and character and the actors, David Collins and Raven Dauda, hold nothing back as they chew into every moment with raw passion and energy. A fusion of both Western and African tradition is what makes the play what it is. This seems to be the intention right from the start.

"(I wanted)...to allow the Canadian audience and the Diasporic Caribbean audience an 'inside edition' of modern day gender dynamics in the Caribbean and to further explore a theatrical technique as pioneered by the author, Tony Hall... I wanted to expose this style of playing to a North American audience... So you come away thinking that could be me or my neighbour in this scene or in that scene. We are not alone as we navigate our life's course."

Twilight Cafe runs until May 27th at the Great Hall downstairs (formerly the Theatre Centre) and is brought to you by Theatre Archipelago.

Photo of David Collins and Raven Dauda


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