Halcyon Youth (Variation Theatre) 2011 Fringe Review

Yesterday I headed down to Givens/Shaw Junior Public School to see Halcyon Youth, a new project by Variation Theatre.  I had quickly read the blurb in the program and knew this was an interactive piece that involved children.  That it is!  The interactive part?  I played a pick up game of ball hockey with fourth graders.

Once I grabbed my ticket I was asked which way I shoot. I was handed a hockey stick and was told I was playing on Michael’s team. I remarked on my lack of appropriate clothing and asked a review of the rules.  “Hit it in that net” I was told by Michael (who I later realized was Michael Orlando, creator of the show).   “And if we loose we riot, right?”

The ref blew the whistle and first period, I mean the show, began.  These kids are great players!  The ref gave a really fun running commentary of the play by play while calling shots and through that, I learned some names.  The goalies were really the stars of this show.  There was Jules; he blocked many of my plays for the other team (the team names were Michael’s team and the other team).  Our team’s goalie was Evan.  I was close enough to him to say, this kid blocked tons of shots.

Excellent work was done by many supporting characters/players.  My favourite moment of the piece was when someone called…foul….(is it foul in hockey?!) when our team thought we had scored.  “Sebastian kicked it!” a member from the other team yelled.  When the ref asked, Sebastian replied with complete sincerity “Yes, I did”.  Now I remember the jocks in gym class challenging each play and yelling back and forth.  This moment of complete honesty – even when it cost us the game – was the show’s highlight.

A special mention goes out as well to Evan’s dad who managed to create a riveting performance despite exhaustion and wearing dress shoes and a polo.  When I asked him about his role he said  “I didn’t expect to be playing tonight, I spent all day at the island.” So awesome.

So these are real kids, no bells, and the only whistle is the ref’s.  All of the money goes to the hockey kids of Givins/Shaw JPS who must really need to hydrate to play 3 of these games a night.  Seeing as I was one of the only (maybe even the only) member there to take part in the show/game, I worry that this show will not make back its Fringe fee let alone make money.  So I am issuing a challenge to everyone to put your runners on and go!  It’s cheaper than a Pilates class, you’ll sweat your butt off, and you are supporting a great cause.

You won’t find a show more real or experiential than this one. Apparently you’ll also be playing with some of the who’s who of the arts community. It really makes you realize how important simple outdoor play is for kids and it made me really proud to be Canadian.  Kids of every ethnicity were just playing our country’s sport together – I started to reflect on how sad the street hockey ban truly is in Toronto.  These kids get it.  They are the real deal.

It’s a two period game and the idea is you really get to experience life as a kid again.  I would say this is certainly truest when, covered with sweat and patting my teammates on the back, I was handed a fruit punch drink box between periods.  Squeezing the sugary red liquid desperately up the straw, I was suddenly back in grade four (happy that I told my mom to freeze the box the night before so it had just the right amount of slush).  Only this time, the jocks were my friends.

Halcyon Youth plays at 6:00 pm, 6:30, and 7:00 pm nightly at the Givens Shaw Jr Public School, 180 Shaw St.

90 min. (3 shows per slot)

Fri, July 8 6:00PM
Sat, July 9 6:00PM
Sun, July 10 6:00PM
Tue, July 12 6:00PM
Wed, July 13 6:00PM
Thu, July 14 6:00PM
Fri, July 15 6:00PM
Sat, July 16 6:00PM


– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only).
– Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

One thought on “Halcyon Youth (Variation Theatre) 2011 Fringe Review”

  1. Great article. It sounds super fun, and for a great cause too. I’m going to try and bring some friends to this next weekend!

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