I had no expectations when I walked into Crash last night at Theatre Passe Muraille. The synopsis that I had read made the show sound interesting but I had no idea that I would walk out of that theatre completely haunted.
What I experienced last night was so raw with emotion and powerful that I don’t know how I can possibly review it. I feel a little out of my depth here and at an utter loss for words, but hopefully I’ll convince you to go and see it.
This one-woman show left me with shivers up my spine and tears in my eyes. I don’t think I have ever seen a show like this. Granted I tend to pick the fluffier, funnier, musical type of shows but after this I think I need to watch more “real theatre”.
This to me is as good as it gets. Written and performed by the incredibly talented Pamela Sinha, to me Crash is about the vulnerable strength of a woman, the loss of faith, and how in a helplessly horrific moment a life can be changed forever.
I love that all the extras in this show were kept pretty minimalistic. The focus is on Sinha, her acting, her journey and the extremely well-written script. Everything else is just there to facilitate that story.
The set is completely bare and painted black. The staged is raised and there are two staircases at opposite sides of the stage. There is a door underneath one of them. The only prop is a milk crate. I love the simplicity of this set and the fact that every square inch of space is used by Sinha. There is also a very cool multi-media component to the show.
The sound and lighting are prefect in this show. Intense, but perfect. There are moments when something really shocking is revealed to the audience and then bam! the lights flash on. It’s wonderfully intense. The sounds of a crash might make you jump at times.
Sinha wears a pair of black pants and a black shirt through the entire show. There is nothing that distracts from her acting and her movements.
The story weaves effortlessly from the past to the present, and from Montreal to Winnipeg to L.A. yet there is no repetition. The 90 minutes fly by even in the TPM Backspace’s less than comfortable seats.
Sinha plays different characters so well that there is never any hesitation as a viewer as to who she is supposed to be. I believed every emotion, every tear, every laugh. She is a powerful actress with a lot of depth.
My show partner, Mahera, made a comment as soon as the lights went up that I normally wouldn’t include but I completely understood where she was coming from. She said, “I wish I was friends with her [Sinha] so I could go up to her and hug her and tell her how proud I am of her performance.” That’s how real this show was. We debated after about whether or not this was a true story because the emotional intensity of the piece was so mind-blowing.
Mahera also said that this was the best show she has ever seen and I would have to agree. It’s not a flashy, big budget, look-at-me kind of show but it’s so much better than that. It moves you, makes you think and leaves you speechless – what more could you ask for.
I cried towards the end and had tears in my eyes walking out of the theatre. Not in a bad way though, it’s just that Sinha made me feel her pain for an hour and a half and I needed a release, just to process it all. There are moments of lightheartedness and some great Indian classical dance movements which Sinha performs with sheer grace.
The bottom-line is that you must go see this show. That’s all I can really say.
– Crash is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Ave) till May 13, 2012
– Performances run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm with an additional matinee on Saturday at 2pm. Sundays are matinee only at 2pm
– Tickets range from $25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends. Saturday matinees are PWYC or $15 in advance
– Tickets are available online, at the door or by calling the Arts Box Office at 416 504 7529
Photo of Pamela Sinha by Aviva Armour-Ostroff