Heart-Strings: Tanya Elchuck – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Amber Landgraff

Have you ever wondered why our hearts do the things that they do?  Have you ever felt the extreme emotions of a break-up and thought that you’d be better off without a heart to break? Heart-Strings, created by Tanya Elchuck and Amy Crnkovic, uses physical theatre and clown influence to explore the story of one Girl and her Heart.

Girl bemoans the fact that her Heart didn’t come with instructions, and looks for answers about why it acts the way it does.  Eventually, tiring of the emotional ups and downs that come with having a heart, Girl decides that she would be better off getting rid of Heart altogether.  She discovers that getting rid of your Heart isn’t that easy after all.

There is a lot of audience interaction during the show, as Girl and Heart run off the stage and into the audience looking for and falling in and out of love, collecting emotional armor to protect themselves from hurt (my favorite of which was biting sarcasm), and sharing a box of photos and the memories they invoke.

Amy Crnkovic is hilarious as the sensitive Heart.  Her physical embodiment of the different emotions that we feel, from first love to heart break, were over the top fun.  I thought that her song to Girl after being discarded was one of the most endearing parts of the show.  And the Girl’s admonition to the audience not to encourage her when she tried to escape being sent away made me laugh out loud.

I thought the show was best when it focused on the funnier extremes of falling in and out of love.  When it was funny it was very funny.  But personally there were times when I felt that the show was a little bit too precious.  This feeling was enhanced in part by the costuming choice of baby doll dresses, big hair bows, and the occasional peak of frilly underwear.


Heart-Strings plays at Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse on St George St, South of Harbord

– Playing Wed, June 30 6:30 PM,
Fri, July 2 8:45 PM, 
Sun, July 4 1:30 PM, 
Wed, July 7 11:00 PM, Thu, July 8 7:45 PM, Fri, July 9 1:45 PM, Sat, July 10 3:30 PM

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only),  Online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee)), and $5 for FringeKids (no convenience fee for kids tickets).

– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows