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Fringe Review: Anatolia Speaks

by Jane Enkin, July 20, 2014

 

Venue #3 -The Playhouse Studio 180 Market Ave. - Entrance on Main St.

See more at: http://www.winnipegfringe.com/show-filter.aspx#THEATrePUBLIC

 

Tue July 22, 5:15 PM

Thu July 24, 3:45 PM

Fri July 25, 10:15 PM

Sun July 27, 2:00 PM

 

Anatolia Speaks is a powerful, beautiful show. Writer Kenneth Brown directs his longtime collaborator, the terrific actor Candace Fiorentino. Sadly, this story from the 1990's, and the earlier history it refers to, becomes a topical play, with resonances in our newspapers today.

 

The humble, energetic title character addresses the audience as her ESL classmates, giving a presentation on her happy life in Canada. At first, you might consider this show similar to the many mild-mannered storytelling presentations in the Fringe, usually autobiographical. But this is a brilliantly directed, nuanced performance in a carefully crafted, devastatingly moving play.

 

Anatolia is a woman from Bosnia living in Edmonton in 1999, making a life for herself here in Canada. This could be classified as historical fiction, with one very individual, rich character standing in for many Canadians of Bosnian descent, and by extension, generations of Canadians who have left troubled lives behind to start again in this country.

 

At first, Anatolia sounds sunny and naive, and keeps us laughing with her. Darker themes emerge against her will, as questions from her unseen classmates trigger memories, show the emotional cracks in her veneer, and finally awaken Anatolia's powerful hopes and fierce will. Fiorentino keeps Anatolia convincingly restrained and dignified while painting vivid word pictures for us. Cute, funny photos in her “power point presentation” give way to more disturbing images. She talks about the family she had to leave, including her twin sons tellingly named Isaac and Ishmael. She is well into her story before she lets the word “refugee” slip out, and although her gratitude for a new life in Canada is sincere, she eventually talks about “surviving” as a minimum-wage earning, poorly housed refugee here.

 

The stresses she faces make the transcendence she communicates all the more remarkable. The play reaches a peak with a celebratory, defiant “Yes!”

 

Jane Enkin Music and Story   janeenkinmusic.com

 
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