Get lucky and see some good Toronto theatre with Videofag’s El Camino or The Field of Stars
A warning at the outset: this is not going to be a balanced review. I unreservedly and unabashedly loved everything about El Camino or The Field of Stars, and I am going to use my allotted pixels to gush about exactly why. If you are in the mood for prickliness or point-by-point critique in the name of professionalism, this review is not for you.
It’s easy to fall in love with Stewart Legere in this show, especially because – as he begins – he’s so uncertain. His performance of a man trying very hard to be as brave as he wishes he were, not quite managing but also not willing to give up, either, is arresting, especially in a space as intimate (read: tiny) as videofag. When he wrung his hands and searched for words, lit with just a single warmed-up special, I wanted to talk him through it in my most reassuring papa-voice, the one I use when my son or dog are scared. And when he gathered himself up enough to tell another part of the story, between his charming digressions and tangents and wordplay, it fell just so into the space created for it.
The arc of the performance is incredibly assured, but it takes a while to understand that an arc is, actually, what you’re seeing. For the first fifteen minutes I must have looked like an old dog, head tilted a bit, delighted but completely unclear about where we were going, or how. It’s true, I’m not sure everyone would be as delighted as I am by a single storyteller caught, or acting caught, in a difficult moment before starting to talk, really talk, about other difficult moments. But I was. Legere has enormous, abundant talent as a writer and performer, and this piece about promises and disappointments and possibility and truths and lies lifted me up. Legere is in the room with each of us, and by the end I just felt so glad and grateful and peaceful to have sat a while with him and his words.
What’s the piece about? Legere will tell you at the opening, or at the start, since we don’t get the beginning until the end, but: “A moment of true joy, some mime, a few lies and at least one truth. A regular surprise, a bad surprise, a moment of silence, a scorpion, a few gay little songs, a coincidence, a trip to the library and maybe someone gets lucky.”
We sure as hell got lucky.
–El Camino or The Field of Stars plays until 2 June at videofag, 187 Augusta Ave
– Shows Wed-Sat at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm
– Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the door. This small house frequently sells out.
– Advance tickets may be had online only.