Cover Photo by Henry Heng Lu

By Grace Phan

The stage in Theatre Passe Muraille’s Mainspace is bare aside from a simple tripod, camera, and flat screen T.V. setup stage right. A little upstage of the camera sits a piano and mic. The murmurs of excitement from the audience on opening night tickle your ears, the soft house light adjusts your vision to the subtle lighting of space, and while you’re still relaxing into your seat, the show unceremoniously begins with Yury Ruzhyev’s abrupt interruption, gracing the audience with his presence.

In Sundry Languages” is a series of sketches roughly welded together by questions of “Where are you from?” and of languages. Each story touches upon the sense of displacement, experiences of immigrating to Canada, struggles of hybrid identities, and reveals the biases that we have toward other languages. The play’s minimal set, costuming, and lighting give off the impression that it’s in its workshop stages. The stories and vignettes, however, lend themselves to very real and tender moments that many of us may relate to.

There are many elements within this show. The video element has a love and hate relationship with the audience and actors. Actors compete with the screen for the audience’s attention while the audience tries to split their attention between the actors on stage and the screen. Some uses for the camera were incredibly well done, while at other times, it hindered the storytelling, making it feel like an afterthought.

Musically, the piano was crucial within scenes and between scene changes, and was wonderfully executed by Art Babayants, The communal interpretive dancing and choreographed movements were well thought out spatially, and quite effective. But it was the ending that stole my heart - a wonderful, intimate, safe, and human moment that unified audience and actors.

This collective show has great potential, and features a talented and skilled cast. It is a show worth seeing a second (or even third) time as it is sure to evolve throughout its run at this Fringe festival. It would be such a missed opportunity if you did not go see it. SO GO SEE IT!

“In Sundry Languages” will be running till July 16.

Show times: 

July 8, 2:15PM
July 9: 7:00PM
July 11: 4:30PM
July 13: 5:15PM
July 14: 12:00PM
July 16: 6:45PM

Tickets can be purchased online HERE, over the phone at:416-966-1062, at the Festival Box Office located in the new Fringe Club at Scadding Court, or on-site before the show!