Emilia Di Luca
In its world premiere at Factory Theatre, The Sacrifice Zone, written by Suzie Miller, marks the international collaboration between award-winning theatre companies: Canada`s Theatre Gargantua and Australia`s The Uncertainty Principle. Under Jacquie P. A. Thomas` direction, an outstanding ensemble—Michael Spence, Ciara Adams, Joel Benson, Pam Patel and Michelle Polak—tells Miller`s story of justice with musical accompaniment by John Gzowski.
After an explosion at a plant, Alex (Joel Benson) and Hannah (Michelle Polak), whose partners died in the accident, demand the company take responsibility for its mistake. Consequently, their quest affects numerous people: children, teachers, and employees, namely an engaged couple. Through multiple lenses, the production explores the sacrifices people make in the name of justice. Stylized movement tells this story of human dignity and environmental concern.
Factory`s stage is a platform for movement and the set is the building blocks for story. Slanted, transparent blocks of descending sizes stand in a line next to a large screen at the side of the stage. Images of nature appear on the screen providing the background for actors to cast shadows. The moveable blocks—industrial to contrast the nature images on screen—transform the stage from a forest to a hockey arena, a sofa to a bookcase. Benson, who portrays a young boy, climbs the blocks and they collapse like dominos leaving a striking image before the audience.
The minimally dressed stage allows for the cast`s bodies to transform from people to shrapnel of the explosion. The bodies quickly run toward the audience as humans and then, in slow-motion, retract and curl onto their spines as contorted objects.
Movement speaks to the audience as much as the script. When Spence and Adams argue as the engaged couple, the pair first engages in battle without dialogue. They weave between and dodge behind a block silently. The couple repeats these actions again with words. Even when Thomas mutes the dialogue, the audience still feels the tension. The movement is a testament to The Sacrifice Zone`s ability to showcase struggle for justice in a physical manner.
Theatre Gargantua`s stylistic movement layers Miller`s simple story. The story moves quickly as it follows many perspectives. The emotions that are not spoken manifest themselves in movement and action. Justice takes a toll on people through mind, soul and especially body as proven in The Sacrifice Zone.
See The Sacrifice Zone at Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street, until November 30th. Tickets are available by phone at 416-504-971. For more details visit http://www.theatregargantua.ca/home/.