Created by first-time playwright Simeon Taole, The Space Between is a personal one-man show about a love story spanning an ocean, and the emotional and cultural distance that can grow between young friends.
Separated from his first love Celeste, Winston is moved from Canada back to apartheid South Africa as a young boy. Set against the backdrop of racial and political upheaval, we see scenes from Winston’s difficult childhood. He tries desperately to stay connected to Celeste while dealing with antagonistic teachers, firefights in the street, and the day-to-day challenges of adolescence. The portrait that emerges is one of a doggedly hopeful young man: no matter how many times he is pushed down, he gets up again, a determined glint in his eye.
Taole is a generous performer, and he pours himself into the role. His energy and enthusiasm are through the roof from the first scene, and he has moments of real vulnerability. The writing, too, is very expressive, if verbose at times. It is clear that this is a passion project for him.
The show does fall into some of the traps of the one-man show. Its intensity, though engaging, feels a little one-dimensional at times. It’s not easy to single-handedly hold an audience’s attention for an hour and a half. Video and photo projections provide some welcome dynamics, supporting the action nicely without feeling overbearing.
The show is at its best when Taole uses simple gestures to bring members of Winston’s family and community to life. When his straight-talking mother enters the room, you’ll know it.
Challenges notwithstanding, Taole’s energy and spirit in The Space Between will win you over, and you’ll be rooting for Winston to reconnect with his young love once again.
Presented by CINEMATOSCAPE and North York Arts, The Space Between is playing at Native Earth’s Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum until March 6. For more information visit http://www.nativeearth.ca/thespacebtwn/.