Get Better, presented by Carol Theatre, is a tightly chaotic, revelatory story of a young woman coming to accept her mental trauma – and herself. It is currently playing at Tarragon Theatre Solo Room as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Get Better is a quick 60 minutes. From start to finish, Jennifer Busuttil leads her audience on an emotionally charged, hyperactive account of her life leading up to, and following, one-too-many concussions. Busuttil has absolute command of the stage and left me feeling that one hour just wasn’t enough – in more ways than one.
Part of what makes Busuttil so captivating is her physicality and absolute control over her body – no doubt a result of her years spent as a personal trainer and student at Randolf College. She fills the stage with myriad bursts of exercise, dance, and physical metaphor – one such was Busuttil prepping for a doctor’s mental examination the way one would prepare for a footrace. Her physicality, relentless pace, and a seemingly endless stream of energy not only keeps the audience glued to her performance – it makes the show fly by.
Though she is an absorbing performer who does an excellent job keeping the audience strapped in for this emotional rollercoaster, the show’s velocity never slows and lacks a definitive climax. This led to what I felt was an abrupt, half-finished ending. This revelatory, dark guide into Busuttil’s battle with minor head trauma riddled with self-doubt, war with ego, and breakdowns maintained a consistent tone throughout 97% of the hour-long play, but then snaps into a completely different headspace. It left me wishing this show had another 30 minutes to flesh out the ending. But as director Callie Presniak writes: “This story doesn’t heal completely.” So maybe that’s the point.
Despite the show’s turbulent content, it is firmly organized by stage manager Murphy Diggon, who cues brilliant light and sound design (Emilie Trimbee and Ali Berkok, respectively). Brown-outs and fades were used as a wonderful analogy to Busuttil’s declining mental health, and occasional pops, doctor’s appointments, and a diary entry are among the strictly choreographed sounds. The overall design of the show was tasteful and pertinent – there was no fluff or pomp.
Altogether, Get Better is a gripping disclosure of life after minor brain trauma. Busuttil’s authority onstage is reinforced by a talented production team, and will likely leave its audiences wishing for more.
- Get Better plays at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room. (30 Bridgman 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; not recommended for children.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. Check in at the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime, and a staff member will escort you to the venue. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- 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.
- Thursday July 4th, 7:45 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 10:15 pm
- Monday July 8th, 5:45 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 3:15 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 8:15 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 6:15 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 10:15 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 4:30 pm
Poster Of Jennifer Busuttil Designed By Jennifer Busuttil