Friday, February 03, 2006

Another Reason to Love Life on the Fringe

I knew before I even sat down to write this that nothing I could say would do justice to Toby Clarke's Imogen. Even as it was going on, I bemoaned its ephemerality in my head, knowing that I would never again be able to capture the spirit of this gentle little show. That's the nature of the form; Shunt's 'turg has said, "If you can write it down on a line, what's the point of doing a live performance?" I hate program and promo blurbs for this very same reason. I find it reductive to write them at all, but alas, they fall into my realm of responsibility, so at least I can maintain some control over what is and isn't fitting.

Imogen was written by an MATP grad, so I went out of sheer curiosity. His play has made it from Edinburgh, and is a gorgeous reminder of everything that is right with the fringe theatre scene. You may have to slog through some really irresponsible rubbish, but occasionally you'll be rewarded by a gem like this.

It's a simple story done with extraordinary care: a man loses his family and discovers that you don't have to die for your life to be over. Scenes flow into each other, memories piece themselves back together, the past and the present undulate in his head and our experience. The moments are what make this exceptional--a sudden freeze of one scene and Leo is at once making love to Amie, and the two are barely touching...he slips a ring onto her finger as she sleeps...Leo literally wanders as his mind leaves the conversation with his boss...he and Imogen are swimming through space (best movement sequence I've seen all year) fighting not to lose contact. The puppet Imogen is the triumph of this show, proving what kind of incredible humanity puppets (and their masterful manipulators--the true force behind this show ) can add to a work. The scenes between Leo and Imogen were indeed the most moving. Watching her come to life-- stomping about, coloring with crayons, climbing into her father's arms--was a pleasure.

Everything in this show just fit. It was lovely. The performers looked so shocked to see a full house; I, on the other hand, wanted to thank them personally for sharing this remarkable play.

Imogen continues at the Oval House through February 11, and tours from there.


Blogger Justin Kownacki said...

The performers were shocked to see themselves taken seriously? I suppose that's a welcome surprise. Positive word of mouth works wonders, eh? I'm sure yours will help.

11:08 PM  

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