The Church of Emily

Split the Lark—and you’ll find the Music—

Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled—
Scantily dealt to the Summer Morning
Saved for your Ear when Lutes be old.

Loose the Flood—you shall find it patent—
Gush after Gush, reserved for you—
Scarlet Experiment! Sceptic Thomas!
Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?

Emily Dickinson, 1864


A show for hard-core fringers and cloud physicists

I saw “The Collectors” on opening night. I am a long time Fringe goer. I have seen ~80% of the “top plays” in the past few years. I think that it is one of the top five fringe plays that I have ever seen – NNNNN or 5 stars or whatever rating system you use.

In many ways, this is the quintessential Fringe play. It is intelligent, it is raw, it is extremely well performed. It is about emotions.

It’s strength is the portrayal of the roller coaster ride of emotions. The debt theme is just the vehicle.

The transitions from one emotion/scene to another was very clean and beautifully done by the actors. I got it right from the beginning – the despair, the fear, the need, and even the little bit of joy at the end. It is NOT about someone suicidal or about the hackneyed mental illness theme. It is about someone who is mentally healthy but at the same time, it is about being at that emotional edge when it seems that “things are not firing on all cylinders” and you have to have hope.

I particularly like the humor and the absurdness of the “nightmare scene”. It was funny and done so well.

I thought the finish was particularly good. Someone, in that position (in despair but healthy) is able to react positively to a an expression of celebration and happiness even if it has to be shared with the demons of the day.

Brilliant ending and brilliant play. I echo the “bravos” and enthusiasm expressed by the audience on opening night.

Bravo and have faith, it is a winner. I hope this review will prompt hard core Fringers to check this out, you won’t regret it.

Paul Joe

Environment Canada: Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Section

On The Collectors and the problem of the cursory review

As an actor (not in this show) who has been reviewed both for better and for worse, I know how frustrating reviews can be, particularly when they feel a bit cursory (this is after the artist has spent months/years/decades creating something that is nuanced, highly complex and more emotional than it is logical). Of course, the reviewer plays an important role by offering a quick reaction, similar to that of an audience member. That said, the reviewer carries a lot of power in their sway of public opinion, especially when in relation to a show like this that has not had the benefit of tonnes of pre-show press. And so I’d like to offer another piece of feedback on the play, that I think the reviewer missed in what was perhaps a hastily concocted review.

I saw the show on opening night and immediately connected with the premise. To me, it is not about the literal “stresses of being in financial debt” per se, but about the experience of many different kinds of debt, which Bramer represents metaphorically via the more literal forms. It’s about the kinds of debts that we *imagine* we have, whether to loved ones, to society, to ourselves, to our work, etc. And how these kinds of debts–which we can never really repay literally but only hope to through some other methods such as our art, our contribution to the world, our goodness–wear on us psychologically, perhaps even psychotically at times, when they are not forgiven and when the ways in which we are trying to repay them are not acknowledged or viewed as adequate.

The show is an experience that is hysterical, sad, heartwarming and distressing, all of which, I would argue, appear highly deliberate. The cast is STELLAR (could we talk about the performances please!–they are awesome!!!) and the direction is designed to leave you with questions, rather than didactically deliver a message. The play is highly spirited, full of humour and darkness and is CLEARLY absurd. I’m a bit baffled by the debate over whether or not an audience member would know that this play is absurd–it is very clearly so and I trust that most audiences are intelligent enough to pick up on that.

I would urge audiences to see this little show (little show with a big cast), as it has lots to say while it takes the audience on a dreaded and delightful phantasm, led by some fantastic performances and steered by thoughtful minds. I look forward to seeing the show in other festivals and am excited to see how it develops and blooms over time.

–Willy, audience and actor