Thursday Theatre Review (and LuminaTO): Back Home

Back Home - a part of the LuminaTO festival and Harbourfront Centre's New World Stage - is an experience to behold. The show is like nothing I've ever experienced, but, at the same time, completely familiar. This is the North American premier of show by the Australian theatre company Urban Theatre Projects.

It is described as "...the reunion of four friends, all from different cultural backgrounds, as they prepare to celebrate old times. Instead, as evening falls, their sunny reminiscences turn dark and vengeful as lifetimes of shattered dreams are revealed."

Set in a backyard, the performance takes place in Toronto park, so, be aware that you're going to be sitting on bleachers outside - dress appropriately. Something else you might want to take into consideration is that during the beginning of the show they barbecue really delicious smelling sausages, so don't come hungry, otherwise it will be a special kind of torture.

The first part of the experience is a bus ride to the location. It's actually a half hour mini-version of "The Great Indian Bus Tour" and involves a guided tour of Toronto landmarks key to First Nations history in the area. It nicely sets the tone for the show to come.

I mentioned that it felt familiar. It's not because I know the story, but rather because it felt so very real. I found myself feeling like I was sitting in the backyard with them, hanging out at a barbecue. The desire to grab a drink and go sit down at the table was quite intense, there wasn't the usual feeling of separation of audience from performance.

My show-partner for this performance was Jorge, a man who loves theatre, studied theatre in university and will be involved in theatre in some way for the rest of his life. He was impressed by the show too. In fact, as soon as it was over, as the standing ovation died down, he turned to me and said, "That was fucking amazing". I couldn't have agreed more.

He said that these were some of the most realistic moments he's seen in theatre in a long time. The violence near the end of the piece was intense and immediate, and, because of how real it felt, it was also a bit scary.

One thing that we both noticed is that even though this is not a 'typical' presentation of a play, and therefore has a lot of potential for artsy pretension, somehow there was not a speck of artsy pretension in this show. Don't get me wrong, I don't actually have a problem with artsy pretension, but somehow this show is that much more impressive for it's lack of it.

It's events like this, and LuminaTO in general, that make me glad to live in Toronto. If you get the chance I highly recommend you check this out.

- Back Home runs until this Sunday (June 10), the bus departs from Harbourfront Centre at 7:15pm every day.
- Tickets are $40
- More information on the Harbourfront website

Photo by Heldrun Oahr

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