Smart, funny, moving, and integrated, Laura Anne Harris takes her audience to Syracuse, New York in Destiny, USA by Convention Productions playing at the Streetcar Crowsnest Scotiabank Studio as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. In Destiny, a city boasting one of the country’s largest malls, Harris navigates her new job as a relay telephone operator for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals even she struggles with a looming personal tragedy.
Projections provide both closed captioning and caller vignettes played by Sage Lovell, Natasha Bacchus, and Tamyka Bullen. Having the screen doesn’t feel like a division of attention at all, either. Krystal Osbourne’s direction ensures that your attention is always where it needs to be.
These snippets were all really good, although I was hit really hard by Bullen’s performance as a depressed mom reaching out to a suicide hotline. The story and emotion were devastating.
Meanwhile, Harris provides a variety of additional characters, from an interviewer who should be working a cosmetic counter to her own husband, Harris has an amazing ability to embody different personalities. Not a single accent is repeated, no person she meets on her journey is the same. I mean, it’s really, really cool to watch.
Throughout her story, she covers a range of topics: distress at the election of Trump, job interviews that go badly, and battling a strong sense of moral frustration.
The show explores the idea that there’s a lot of injustice in the world, and it’s hard to stay passive. In one scene, Harris relays a phone call between a husband (played by Harris) and his wife (Bacchus) in rehab which perfectly encapsulates this struggle.
Destiny, USA is clearly a personal story for Harris, but she takes a more conversational approach to its heavier themes that I think makes it feel more universal. Things happen, life isn’t fair, and the only takeaway is that we need to do better as people.
It’s direct, to the point, and I think spectacularly well-done.
As you can probably guess, I loved this show. I highly recommend you check it out.
- Destiny, USA plays at the Streetcar Crowsnest Studio. (345 Carlaw Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; audience participation; not recommended for children.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday July 5th, 4:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 6:45 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 5:00 pm
- Monday July 8th, 9:15 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 2:30 pm
- Friday July 12th, 7:45 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 5:00 pm
Photo of cast member by Jamie Code Canepa.