FRINGE REVIEW: A Cogent Social Comment in The Gift

Monday Magazine's theatre critic Sheila Martindale reviews The Gift

It is powerful and moving, this dance without words.  It is violent, and full of the threat of more violence.  It is the sad story of a little boy growing up in a first-nations environment.  It is beautifully done; it wrenches the heart.  And it is way too long.

We get the message in the first ten minutes of the show.  After that is it merely painful.  The Gift is created by John Aitken and Gail Noonan. There are two hand drums and the woman’s singing (or chanting, or keening).  The judicious use of blankets and cloths add to the menacing atmosphere.  The tension is palpable.  The show ends with a faint ray of  hope.

All of this happens in 75 long minutes.  Then there is a question and answer period, which might have been useful if we had been able to hear what was said.  The audience had questions, but they were too softly spoken to be heard in the relatively large auditorium.  And the answers were whispered and totally inaudible.  I was too far from the exit, or I would have left and been on my way home.  Surely a microphone would have been in order?

You have one more opportunity to see The Gift at the Metro Theatre (1411 Quadra Street): Tuesday August 29 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $9, and don’t forget to take your Fringe button.

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