GBC theatre school delivers a hilarious, heart-wrenching, and splendidly absurdist performance of a Bertolt Brecht classic, directed by Richard Greenblatt
The George Brown College (GBC) theatre school’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s classic, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, is an unforgettable journey that brings together traditional theatre, song, dance, elements of the absurd and impeccable stage combat to create a completely unique spectacle.
This is all while staying true to the original message of the play.
“A lot of comedy, a lot of drama, heartfelt moments, scary moments, there’s so much of everything,” Tal Katz said to expect from the production. Katz plays the central character, Grusha.
The play is set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto, 33 years into the future. An unknown disaster has caused food contamination, disease and starvation has decimated the population.
In the city “formerly known as Toronto” two communities, the Don Valley goat farmers and the Brickworks food scientists disputed over a piece of fertile farmland.
After a land acknowledgment that fits seamlessly into the story, the Don Valley goat farmers and the Brickworks food scientists used the classic tale of “The Chalk Circle” to demonstrate that what exists should be owned only by those who can make best use of it.
Music is immediately and beautifully integrated into the play with The Singer, played by Alison Beckwith, who set the scene with a song.
The audience is then taken to the fictional town of Nuka, where Grusha is a maid who has taken in the child of a wealthy governess after his mother left him behind during a coup.
During her journey, Grusha faced impossible feats to protect the child and came to love him as her own.
When the governor’s wife laid claim to the child three years later, however, Grusha must face a court of law in order to prove that, although she has no blood claim, the child is hers and hers alone.
The actors made you feel joy, despair, terror and everything in between.
The ensemble, in particular, brought life to the play through fluid, dance-like set changes, disturbingly believable stage combat and unfaltering acting in every scene.
The main cast delivered the tale beautifully as well and drew in the audience at every turn with raw, authentic acting and unbelievable vocals.
These performances would be impossible, however, without John Millard’s wonderful original compositions for the production.
Millard mixed the genres of pop, country, musical theatre, choral and rock to transform the tale of Grusha into a completely unique experience.
Cast members played electric guitar, piano and even violin live on stage.
They burst out into harmonies, sometimes completely acapella, and still were able to deliver a hilarious, heart-wrenching, and at times disturbing experience.
Millard’s dynamic compositions breathed life into The Caucasian Chalk Circle and the actors breathed that life right back at the audience with their performance.
This production is being staged at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tankhouse Lane, Toronto and runs until Nov. 17. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students (student ID required) and can be purchased from the Young Centre’s website.