Review: In The Pines (Red One Theatre Collective)

Before going to see In The Pines (Yabu No Naka Co-Op, Campbell House Museum and Red One Theatre Collective), staged at the Campbell House Museum, I read a two-three-sentence blurb about it, that completely undersold the show (in my opinion). That said, I’m not sure there are a lot of words that would accurately convey how good it was.

It is based on the classic Rashomon tales by Ryunesuke Akutagawa. It is the tale of a violent crime, told in testimonial form from various different perspectives. It is composed completely of monologues, as none of the characters ever interact with each other.

As the audience you move through the house from room to room, meeting the different characters in each new setting. If you don’t already know a little of the history of the Campbell House: it is the only remaining building left of the old city of York, originally the home of Sir William Campbell, a chief justice in the Supreme Court of Upper Canada.

My show partner pointed out that all of these elements made it an extremely interactive show – each scene is a dialogue in a way, and when the characters in the show speak, you as the audience become a jury.

It is this that makes the choice of venue perfect. It also truly highlights the subjectivity of eyewitness testimony and truth. Many versions of a story (though definitely not all) can be partially true, but not encompass all angles nor points of view.

The scenes were punctuated by music from a small a cappella choir, which was a unique and effective way of getting us to move from one room to the other (somehow we all knew we were supposed to follow them into whatever door they chose).

A few practical pieces of advice: you will be walking and on your feet for a good portion of the show – so try to stay light (I came right from work with a laptop) and wear comfortable shoes.

They also warn you at the beginning that fire is used in a few of the scenes – a simple but effective way of taking you back to a different era, but a good thing to note if you are sensitive to smoke. However, they do state that you can reach out to the staff to help you get some fresh air should you need it.

I am on the fence about whether or not this is family-friendly. I’d say use your discretion, as some of the subject matter is definitely adult territory, but it’s not presented in a way that is incredibly inappropriate.

This show is quite short at about 40 minutes in length. I am a huge fan of anything that does a lot with very little – this show doesn’t just tell you a story, but transports you into a completely different era – all with a handful of characters, a choir and an old house. I would highly recommend it.


In The Pines plays at the Campbell House Museum (160 Queen W) till October 31th, 2011.

Shows begin at either 7pm or 9pm.

Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online or at the door.