When entering Theatre Passe Muraille’s main space to see The Hum, the first thing you will likely notice is the three performers already on stage, lounging about near a couch, taking in the incoming audience members. Sometimes they smile and nod to those who pass by the front of the stage, and even engage in small banter. This very soft opening to The Hum sets it apart as a slightly different type of show.
Making up the cast for this SummerWorks Festival production are Julia Aplin, John Gzowski, and their daughter, Jenny Aplin. They incorporate song, dance, speech, technology, and laughter as they explore topics such as nature, the stars, life, and other curiosities.
While the themes are grandiose, the way that they are approached throughout The Hum is simple. At one point, the three sit on the edge of the stage, looking up at an imaginary sky filled with stars, wondering aloud to one another about what they see. In another moment, while Jenny enjoys some pancakes, Julia excitedly explains what goes into making and eating them, from the sugary maple syrup to the materials that go into the utensil Jenny uses.
While there are some interesting concepts explored, The Hum seems to always be on the verge of going to another level, but never making that breakthrough. The scenes start out quaint and homey, and then build through dance, song, or some other means that inevitably falls just a bit short of where it sounds like it could (or should) go. There is a lack of substance to the entire show in that the concepts and themes don’t feel fully explored. While the three performers work to create some wonderful scenes, those scenes sometimes don’t peak where they should.
Large themes like life, death, or the environment are brought up and explored in only the simplest ways, and while these exploratory moments are delightfully entertaining, they can sometimes feel slightly hollow because they don’t go anywhere. The three performers, Julia, John, and Jenny, are wonderfully in sync. They share the stage and feed off each other in a way only a family could.
The Hum is, above all else, a show that will leave you feeling warm and happy, but ultimately wanting more.
The SummerWorks Festival runs until Aug. 16. Tickets for The Hum are $15. Visit www.summerworks.ca for more details.