Review: Germinal (Harbourfront Centre-World Stage 2016)

Germinal is playing Jan. 20-23, 2016 at Fleck Dance Theatre as part of Harbourfront World Stage 2016, Toronto ON.“Highly acclaimed” production Germinal plays on stage in Toronto

Tonight I caught the opening night performance of Germinal, a unique production from France, as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage 2016 — and am I ever glad I did!  I had no idea I was in for a theatrical experience of such epic proportions.

I  wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I read the show synopsis, but what I saw was pure magic.  In Germinal, created by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort, four adventurers begin to remake the world from the beginning, right before our eyes. I was mesmerized by the section where they begin to discover voice, words, communication and social order.

This play was also  surprisingly whimsical and comical but continued to keep me thinking deeply about  technology, physics, religion, language and the basic meaning of existence. In the process, it made me more aware of the world around me and to appreciate it with a different set of eyes. It was truly thought provoking and clever.

There were so many enticing elements to this production and although I speak very little French (the show was entirely in French and surtitled in English) I found it only added to its allure. I really appreciated their comical justification for English projections. It was a cute touch. I enjoyed that the actors physicalized the dialogue in such a way that even if you stopped paying attention to the projections on the back wall, you still got the gist of what was happening. The nuances were in their every move.

I have to give a huge amount of respect to the technical crew. This play is nothing without the expert additions of sound and light which were playfully incorporated into the script. They were an important element in this piece, often providing moments of surprise. I don’t want to be too specific because I wouldn’t want to give away any of this play’s treats, but it is something you must see for yourself. It is a buffet of visual art, music and interactive performance.

The actors often controlled a lot of the sound and light cues which completely blew my mind. That must have been one heck of a rehearsal process as they fine tuned and choreographed the timing just right.

Apparently, Germinal is “one of the most talked about pieces in the international performance circuit in recent years.” and I can totally see why. This piece is unlike any other I have ever seen. The actors were at ease while telling a technically complicated story. There were perfectly executed elements of humor that had the audience in stitches, all the while, guiding you to think deeply about the system our world has become accustomed to running on. They had my undivided attention from start to finish.

Sadly, Germinal is only playing for three more nights and I highly suggest you buy tickets in advance as tonight’s performance was quite well sold. Seeing theatre from the international stage is such a treat. When something comes this highly acclaimed across Europe and North America, it would be a shame to miss.


  • Germinal‘s remaining showtimes are Jan. 21-23, 2016 at 8PM at Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre (207 Queens Quay West) as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage 2016.
  • Tickets: $54 Adults, $15 for youth (up to 29 years) and full time students. Purchase by phone 416-973-4000, online or at Box Office (235 Queens Quay West)
  • World Stage Season Pass: Access to all productions including the World Stage Mirror Ball. Three-Show Flex Pass: Three transferable tickets for any performances during the season. Both passes provide savings of up to 45%. The Season Pass is available until January 23 and the Flex Pass is available until February 20.
  • Discounts are available for groups, seniors and arts industry professionals
  • Germinal is performed in French with English surtitles.

Photo by Alan Rico