ECM Theatre’s production of Nourishment is a must-see at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. It’s a wonderfully conversational and inviting experience into the many strengths and frustrations of what it means to be a female in 2017. You should go, especially if you’re tired of talking about feminism.
This play is comforting just as it is empowering, offering much-needed sustenance for this never-ending battle we refer to as women’s rights. No matter what your sex or gender may be, you’ll find it nourishing, for sure.
Nourishment is told through a series of vignettes which weave together the lives of four women from different generations, who share familial ties and are united by the shared space of their grandmother’s kitchen. They each respond to the trying reality of a world made up by men– men who severely lack in what you might call “situational awareness.” But this isn’t a play about men at all. From the very onset of the show, the space is characterized as being sacred based on the very fact that it is free of men. It is about the women who are strained, overworked and struggling, offering insight into the causes of this suffering.
This is a show one eases into gently, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have a good dose of hard hitting frank disclosures, or “real talk” (as Isabel Kanaan’s character eloquently puts it). For example, there was a scene dedicated to recounting experiences of sexual assault and our society’s failing to adequately respond. This scene proves how theatre is an effective and necessary platform to shed light on the depths of these kinds of truths. By performing the retelling of trauma on stage, a topic that usually stays within the safety of female-only spaces, the reality of the violence women face on a day- to-day basis can be shared with anyone who still doesn’t understand why feminism is a word we need to throw around.
This cast of women gave remarkable, nuanced performances and worked so well together as a collective. Kira Renee offers a kind of sweet gravity to counterbalance Catherine Wylee’s more keyed-up character. Kanaan as ‘The Young One’ is everything you’d hope for in a little sister or cousin, and Grace Thompson’s facial expressions enhance the hilarity of any scene without ever upstaging. The overall thoughtfulness incorporated into this production is something to marvel at, down to the detail that even the character’s names are foods (Ginger, Olive, Brie)!
Another real strength of this show is in the transitions. They gave closure to each vignette while also building momentum towards whatever action followed next. The simplicity of the set and costume design served this purpose well, and the soundscape and movements of the actors between scenes was mesmerizing.
This is a play about taking back the kitchen, and everyone should see it. Regardless of your sex or gender, or political beliefs, it will resonate. This is a relevant and honest piece of theatre, wrought with subtleties and poignant moments. Don’t miss out! Go see it, and bring someone you love.
- Nourishment plays at The Theatre Centre’s Franco Boni Theatre. (1115 Queen St. W.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language.
- This venue is accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 07:00 pm
- Friday July 7th, 11:30 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 01:45 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 05:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 09:45 pm
- Friday July 14th, 05:45 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Kira Renee, Catherine Wylee, Grace Thompson and Isabel Kanaan by Hashmita Alimchandani