WOMEN SEEN, HEARD

Col­lec­tive cre­ation ra­di­ates wit, ur­gency and the­atri­cal­ity

NOW Magazine - - STAGE - By JOSÉ TEODORO

NOW YOU SEE HER by Lisa Karen Cox, ñ

Mag­gie Hu­cu­lak, Raha Ja­van­far, Amy Nost­bakken, No­rah Sa­dava and Cheyenne Scott (Quote Un­quote Col­lec­tive/Night­wood Theatre/Why Not Theatre). At Bud­dies in Bad Times (12 Alexan­der). Runs to Novem­ber 4. $10-$75. 416-975-8555. See Con­tin­u­ing, page 29. Rat­ing: NNNN

Near the start of Now You See Her we see Raha Ja­van­far, spotlit in the up­per pe­riph­ery of the play­ing space, as­sume the role of a siren-like MC and prom­ise that we will wit­ness the van­ish­ing of six women.

Given the des­per­ate tenor of this ex­tra­or­di­nary cre­ation from Quote Un­quote Col­lec­tive in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Night­wood Theatre and Why Not Theatre, that prom­ise arouses as much dread as ex­cite­ment: women do van­ish, not through ho­cus-po­cus but through cur­rents of misog­yny that cir­cu­late our poli­cies, daily in­ter­ac­tions and unchecked bi­ases.

Weav­ing to­gether a sex­tet of dis­creet mi­cro-nar­ra­tives au­thored by the per­form­ers and charged with il­lu­min-

at­ing the strug­gle of women against myr­iad forces of marginal­iza­tion, Now You See Her should feel rigidly schematic. In­stead it ra­di­ates wit, ur­gency and high the­atri­cal­ity, in­cor­po­rat­ing mu­sic, video and dance. Some of the char­ac­ters are pri­mar­ily mech­a­nisms to il­lus­trate some as­pect of the play’s polemic, but most feel lived-in and im­bued with ar­rest­ing per­sonal de­tails.

Mag­gie Hu­cu­lak plays a jour­nal­ist re­ceiv­ing a life­time achieve­ment award that re­sem­bles a con­so­la­tion prize in lieu of gen­uine re­spect and proper re­mu­ner­a­tion. Lisa Karen Cox plays a singing star who daz­zlingly ex­poses the lay­ers of ar­ti­fice in­volved in her char­ac­ter’s per­for­mance of gen­der and race. Codi­rec­tor Amy Nost­bakken plays a de­voted sci­en­tist treated as fur­ni­ture by her male col­leagues. (Nost­bakken also plays a mean gui­tar and, at one point, lets loose a hair-rais­ing Patti Smith soul-howl.) Cheyenne Scott plays a stu­dent who

moves to Van­cou­ver for love and ed­u­ca­tion, only to stum­ble into the har­row­ingly pre­car­i­ous ob­scu­rity that looms over so many Indige­nous women. The in­sid­i­ous na­ture of pa­tri­archy is in­ven­tively ex­plored in sce­nar­ios through­out Now You See Her, though much of its last­ing power lies in its mu­sic: Ja­van­far’s al­lur­ingly dead­pan, rhyth­mi­cally be­guil­ing spo­ken-word his­tory lessons; Cox’s hy­per-en­er­gized, sta­dium-ready pop the­atrics; or the cli­mac­tic homage to singer Clare Torry, whose un­for­get­table im­pro­vised vo­cal per­for­mance on Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig In The Sky went un­cred­ited for three decades. Each ensem­ble mem­ber picks up an in­stru­ment to per­form the tune with dar­ing brio, en­sur­ing that all these women are in­deed seen and, per­haps even more im­por­tantly, heard. stage@nowtoronto.com | @chimi­no­matic

Mag­gie Hu­cu­lak (left), Lisa Karen Cox, No­rah Sa­dava and Cheyenne Scott will def­i­nitely move you.

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