The Intruder is the latest piece from Alameda Theatre Company’s writer in residence, Amaranta Leyva. It is a charming show that feels particularly suited for Theatre for Young Audiences as it deals with issues both political and personal through the eyes of a young girl. It is one of the SummerWorks plays that endures the heat, humidity and, on the night I was there, the insects of the Factory Studio Theatre.
This is the story of young Catalina and we meet her in the aftermath of her parent’s breakup. She has moved and now lives with her mom and new boyfriend, the man she calls “the intruder”. It may sound like a dark show but it never really is. Instead of becoming dismal, there is a sweet whimsy to this show brought to life by puppets that are the embodiment of the people in Catalina’s life.
I really like how the puppets were so simply made of pressed cardboard and felt. They were a very effective device. Each actor slips their hands into the puppet’s hands and the dolls come to life as the characters through Catalina’s eyes. This allows for reenactments of things in her past as well as illuminated plays of her dreams and thoughts.
It is the story about Catalina’s despair for her situation as she tries to figure out what strange secrets this new intruder is hiding. Paloma Nunez plays the role of Catalina and it is Nunez that truly makes the show work. She’s got just the right amount of spunk and humourous melodrama to make Catalina loveable. We enjoy the ups and downs of her pre adolescent life; from her battle between a hunger strike and really yummy ham sandwich, to her conflicted feelings for a dad that left without bothering to kiss her goodbye, to her slow journey of acceptance for the new dad figure in her life.
I wouldn’t say I am the most learned in terms of Latin American/Canadian theatre, but I did take some Latin American theatre courses way back in University and I have yet to see or read Latin American theatre that didn’t, in some way, make a statement about the fractured politics and upheaval in Latin American countries.
Although it seems slightly incongruous to the flow of the show, politics show up here too and this time it is about the silencing of the political opposition in Argentina. Michelle Arvizu’s Luisa and Juan Carlos Velis’s Delfor carry this heavy weight well although we still see her mother and mother’s boyfriend very much through Catalina’s simple eyes. That said, it does give the play an additional Latin context, even if it is painted in broad strokes. Again, it would be a great learning tool for younger audiences.
I liked this show. I found it charming and effective and I really thought Nunez’s characterization was as hilarious and as sweet as her dolls. I also liked Leyva’s script as well as Marilo Nunez’s direction. Despite the weighty subject matter, this is a play that has all the fun and imagination of a child.
Monday August 8th 8:00 PM
Tuesday August 9th 10:30 PM
Saturday August 13th 5:30 PM
Sunday August 14th 12:30 PM
-All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.artsboxoffice.ca, by phone at 416.504.7529, in person at the Arts Box Office (located at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., One block North East of Bathurst & Queen W. M-F 12PM-7PM, Weekends 10AM-8PM) (Advance tickets are $15 +HST and $1 service fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows