Fraser Studios has been around for the past seven years, helping to build the arts community in Toronto by offering a variety of classes and workshops, as well as providing a space for artists to showcase their work. From now until Dec. 14, Fraser Studios will be the home for First Root founder Denise Mader’s new one-woman show This One. This One features York University alum Denise Mader, recounting the experiences she had with her mother, up until her untimely passing; all the while she is attempting to prepare and bake a pecan pie. The original piece ran approximately twenty minutes, and was presented during the summer of 2012 at York University as a part of Mader’s Master of Fine Arts program. “I started to work on the show by going through my notebooks from the past year,” writes Mader. “Highlighting all of the phrases peppered throughout that were marked with ‘solo show idea,’ and I realized that upwards of eighty percent of them were about my mom.”
The show has since been expanded with the help of piece director Melee Hutton. The piece is now just shy of an hour and contains an intimate look into the highlights of the time that Denise and her mother had spent together. Mader presents these stories in a very natural way, as more of a conversation between herself and the audience, speaking directly from the heart. She connects with the audience in a very deep and intimate way, and we can’t help but be brought along for the entire ride. Mader is very open with the audience, even going so far as to offer us up tea, coffee or water when we enter the theatre. Her enthusiastic friendliness helps prepare us for the intimate story that will follow within the next hour. Without giving away any spoilers, I would recommend you bring some tissue to this performance.
The highlight of the piece is definitely Mader’s honest and heartfelt performance, but it is certainly complimented by the Andrea Mittler’s set design. The set is designed as a very realistic kitchen, with a fully stocked fridge, an oven, bowls, a full sink and an island for Mader to prepare us our pie. The set works well with the themes of Mader’s story, particularly when she recounts that most of the important moments she had with her mother took place in the kitchen. She also goes on to explain how much her mother loves cooking and baking and how her specialty was pecan pie (which the audience actually gets to taste after the show). The music also plays a very important part of this piece. With her iPhone connected to the speaker system, Mader plays for us a medley of the country hits that she loved listening to with her mother. It’s the fine details like this that really help add to the realism and honesty of this piece.
Tickets are 25$ ($20 for students), and runs from now until December 14th. For ticket information visit www.denisemader.com.