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Theatre Orangeville Online – Brave New Works – digging in

February 5, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Theatre Orangeville unleashed their youthful writers and some of them took life by the scruff of its neck and asked the old questions with fresh voices. 

Brave New Works, online until February 11, is a collection of sketches by Theatre Orangeville’s programs alumni – looks as though they were invited to say what was on their minds or bring a favourite entertainment.

So, they did.

Breach MacDonald and Erin McAdams wrote and collaborated on a humorous approach to being quarantined: two young women and a couple of microphones tell the tale of sharing accommodation at York University. Studying online, as the university announces desperate measures to keep its students engaged but the students also have other methods of coping. 

From binging to battles to retiring to their respective home – horrors – “they treated me as though I was still 13!” Back to sharing is better, in spite of that greasy pan, left in the sink for – seems like – weeks!

Clever and funny, these two ladies sound as though they have done it, lived it and are ready to go on for a while longer. A great beginning to the show.

Ghosts, partly written and several characters performed solo by Dan Reale takes on the question of life, the afterlife and, for that matter, before life. 

Haunting him are phantoms and questions and answers coming from other times, other conversations. Just one actor, himself, with only half a dozen lamps with bare light bulbs, in a darkened set. 

Much of the dialogue, in addition to what Dan wrote, is taken from works in the public domain, including Shakespeare: from Hamlet, Ophelia’s song, “He’s dead and gone, Lady.” Later, he recites Queen Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s death, as she sings until the water brings her into “the mud.” 

Dan blends them all into a whole that is mesmerizing and infinitely satisfying. Very interesting use of basic lighting, which he manipulates on his own, except for one light shining above him with its chance for revelation.

Dan Reale tells us that this called a Vocal Mask, with some variations.

What is love is the question brought into fresh relief by Katie Creelman. She performs her piece, Fanaa, with Calista Edwards-Plourde. They take the issues around the dissolution of a relationship, here death is implied, from the point of view of what comes next for the survivor. Katie struggles as Persephone, in a fascinating two-way discussion with Calista in the role of Apollo, pushing the elements of passion and grief, the obligations that love imposes on the rest of us.

Katie is so anguished and Calista entirely balanced and reasoned: it is a fine piece to watch with a very encouraging conclusion.

The Muffin Scene from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a treat offered to us by Adriano Reis as Jack and Cooper Bilton in the role of Algernon. 

They were delightful; Oscar Wilde is delightful and these two actors did his wordy, humorous dialogue justice. The Muffin Scene sees the two men debating the heavy issues around the consumption of muffins and which of them is going to be christened “Ernest,” Messrs, Reis and Bilton bring on the Upper English accents and let the language flow. They are natural enough with it but, of course, the speech is quite stilted anyway, beautifully done.

The scene is nicely staged with tea table and chairs and they use the props to good effect, to keep the scene interesting while not distracting from the wild witty dialogue. 

Justin Reesor has written this piece, The D.R.E.A.M Machine, in which he performs as Sam with Dan Reale as Dr. Clear. 

Dr. Clear has created a dream hunting machine with which he hopes to accompany his patient, Sam, to visit his dreams. Yet, it must be remembered that some dreams are nightmares. Quite a funny piece, as the chaotic machine of wires and who knows what, prove unreliable and their dream destinations could wind up anywhere. 

Eccentricity apart, the concept is great, thinking about the joys and dangers of visiting one’s dreams, which, as the doctor says, are the subconscious talking to us without the barriers of the real world.

Justin tells the audience this was originally a two-hour script, reduced to 10 minutes. That was surely a challenge! 

The final contribution, penned by John Daniel, taking up the role of Cooper, with Adriano Reis as his foil, Dutch. This is a show that nails an age old question, bringing it right up to society’s collective nose: why it is considered -somehow!- wrong for artists to want to be paid well? Why is art not seen as much as a venue to commercial success as any other endeavour? Or, if so, why must art and artists bow to the mediocre common denomination, rather than truly inspired and creative?

Cooper returns to the digs he shares with Dutch – they are broke. He was doing a gig of sorts for a business function, for which the subject of being paid was washed over by an offer of food and a beer. 

It is a very powerful piece that aims to be iconoclastic in its reality check of how art is, even if revered, not usually rewarded in real terms. Well written and worthy of reflection on everyone’s part.

Brave New Works is on through Theatre Orangeville Online to February 11. For more information and tickets, go to or call the box office at 519-942-3423.

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