Toronto Fringe kicked off its annual Next Stage Theatre Festival (NSTF) at Factory Theatre last night, the heated beer tent in the courtyard filling up with excited actors, audience and volunteers coming in from our first extreme cold snap of the season.Thankfully, the tent’s bar menu includes some warm boozy concoctions like cider and rum, and tea with a little extra something to take away the bite of winter.
I saw two shows in the Studio last night, the first being Discord and Din Theatre’s production of Jenna Harris’s Mine, a two-hander directed by Clinton Walker, featuring actors Harris and Michelle Polak.
We see the relationship between Beatrice (Harris) and Abby (Polak) unfold through a series of non-chronological scenes, giving the storytelling a tone of excitement and disorientation – much like falling in love. Opposites attract – and the audience is carried along with the tension, heat and heart of their meet cute, their distancing, flirtation, date nights, sexuality and domesticity.
Harris is sweet, cerebral and shy as Beatrice – and Diane Keaton-like with her comic timing and neurotic moments. Polak’s Abby is very much in her body, panther-like and assertive, with a soft butch swagger, and a mouth and heart full of poetry. Pablo Neruda’s I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair features prominently in the text, the perfect complement – and perhaps even the inspiration – to the passion and desire for possession that plays out between these women.
With shouts to Jenna McCutchen’s set design – love the two pedestals and couch/bed made of books – and Melinda Deines’s sensuous choreography.
Mine is an erotic, poetic and truthful journey in and around the evolution of a relationship – with lovely work from actors Harris and Polak.