I couldn’t get into Egodeath’s production of The Reproductive Life Cycle of a Flower currently playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival. I was, at first, intrigued by the playwright’s intentions: “We wanted to see if we could illustrate the parallels between humans and other organisms.” (Kara Crabb). I, too, find the natural world fascinating and ripe with metaphorical possibilities. On their own, however, these possibilities don’t ensure a compelling story.
Generally speaking, I avoid one-person shows; rarely do I enjoy them. This one suffers from a common feature of the format: the “and then” syndrome, where nothing that happens truly builds on what came before, it just occurs.
Norah Paton plays herself (?) performing a script by Kara Crabb that illustrates the titular phenomenon of a flower forming from a seed and uses it as a framing device for this woman’s story about getting high on hallucinogenic drugs, sleeping with a smart, sexy, science-y guy and never quite getting over him. Yeah… I don’t see the connection either.
Something happens, and then, and then, and then… She goes back and forth between the flower’s story and her own, though there is no real parallel. The flower’s journey is definite and solid. Our human protagonist, however, just goes through motions. There is only a feeble link between the two.
I quite liked Norah Paton’s neurotic persona. She’s a grounded presence, determined and restrained, but she needs better material. Given a larger audience, the shared energy might have bolstered her performance and made the show more compelling. As it stands, there isn’t any real drama or urgency in the script. There are no stakes, nothing to be lost or gained. I don’t know why this character’s plight is relevant to me.
There is a crudely painted backdrop of a blue sky with clouds that hovers upstage. My eye kept drifting towards that sky, imagining a child’s science presentation on the subject of plant life cycles. Aesthetically, the backdrop, costume (and the character’s nervous rambling) suggest a school assignment, though this seems not to serve any thematic purpose.
There is an inspiring yet vague idea about the vast interconnectedness of nature floating around in this piece, but I just couldn’t grab hold of anything substantial enough to take away with me.
- The Reproductive Life Cycle of a Flower is playing until July 11 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
July 03 at 09:15 PM
July 04 at 02:15 PM
July 06 at 06:30 PM
July 08 at 02:00 PM
July 10 at 12:30 PM
July 11 at 04:00 PM
Photo of Norah Paton by Kara Crabb