You enter the theatre and are handed a confidential envelope. Four men of similar stature, all sporting the same buzz cut, are sitting back-to-back in a circle centre stage, holding an orange between their teeth. The lights come up. Training has begun.
This is the first thing you'll witness in Theatre Parallax Toronto’s KATA, and it only gets better from there.
KATA follows the story of these four men stuck in the confines of a square room, where they are to train and become strong, perfect soldiers. It follows the journey they each take as this system wears down their humanity, while pushing them to face the limits of their bodies. You watch them grow and you watch them break down; the result leaves you in awe.
This piece is the result of years of development and training, and the cast’s full dedication to remaining in top physical condition. This is made evident from the instant the four men begin to move. The strength and strain put on the actors’ bodies is unlike anything I've seen in physical theatre – it may be the most intense hour-long workout you'll ever witness. The ensemble pushes themselves to reach the limits of their bodies and allows for the show to become a showcase of these long term commitments.
Spit, sweat and the smell of oranges, alongside these shocking displays of physical strength, makes for an impressive show that has a visceral effect on audiences. What I think really pushes the show over the edge is the fact that the four men are able to create distinct characters that you come to know and care about so much throughout the piece, without the use of text. Their movement alone is able to successfully tell the story of these characters, express their relationships to one another and depict the dystopian world they live in.
After seeing only one performance, one can already imagine the strain and diligence it must take to endure going through such an intense show for the next few weeks. Director Maite Jacobson expressed that this is the first time the cast will be performing consecutively for such a long run, and says she is unsure how this highly physical show will take its toll on the actors and their bodies. The show isn't an illusion; the hard work audiences will witness is the real reaction of these bodies, and all the shaking, sweating, and emotion that comes with it.
Needless to say, this kind of commitment to the show is well worth the wait. KATA is the kind of show that leaves audiences with their jaws on the floor from the second the lights go up to well beyond the curtain call. It is a triumphant display of commitment to the craft that will no doubt leave you awestruck.
Performed by Anthony Di Feo, Thomas McDevitt, Dylan Shumka-White nd Luke Pieroni; KATA will be playing at Dancemakers until Nov. 20.