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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Theatre review: Fairview is rich and multi-faceted in tone and concept

In an age of abundant content consumption, it's rare to experience something that genuinely stirs and shakes you wide awake viscerally, intellectually, and emotionally.

In an age of abundant content consumption, it’s rare to experience something that genuinely stirs and shakes you wide awake viscerally, intellectually, and emotionally. Fairview does just that, challenging its audience to interrogate, both collectively and individually, their role and responsibility as spectators through the lens of identity, race and difference.

It is challenging to write about this Pulitzer Prize-winning play without revealing too much about the twists and turns that make it so impactful.

Structured in three parts, Fairview takes audiences on a 90-minute journey where theatre’s conventional customs and mechanics get tossed on their heads. What begins as a sitcom-style comedy about a middle-class black family preparing a dinner party ends in an entirely different place, with interventions and characters that abrasively and gradually insert themselves into the action with jarring and unsettling consequences.

Kwaku Okyere and Mindy Parfitt’s creative direction, paired with Jackie Sibblies Drury’s innovative writing, results in an explosive production that uses experimental form to force us to examine what it means for audiences, especially middle-class, white audiences, to consume stories about marginalized communities.

The entire cast is convincing and captivating, and you can feel their passion for the project in the way they immerse themselves in their roles and dynamic interactions with each other.

While the entire cast is convincing and captivating, Yasmin D'Oshun gives the star turn in Fairview. Photo by Mark Halliday.
While the entire cast is convincing and captivating, Yasmin D’Oshun gives the star turn in Fairview. Photo by Mark Halliday.

Yasmin D’Oshun stands out as the star of the show, her character an important catalyst for action and empathy, and she balances the portrayal of a bright and naive teenager with the delivery of loftier and meaningful subject matter in a way that feels natural and deeply poignant and rousing.

Uncomfortable at times, self-aware and meta, and packed full of humour and heart, Fairview is rich and multi-faceted in tone and concept. It poses crucial and philosophical questions around perception and reality while provocatively ripping up the social contract of ‘passive’ viewership and judgment.

Fairview is yet another exciting and innovative work produced by local company The Search Party with The Cultch’s Historic Theatre a perfect setting to house and facilitate this important, enlightening, powerful rollercoaster that exemplifies the power and impact of live theatre.

Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Directed by Kwaku Okyere and Mindy Parfitt. A The Search Party production in partnership with b current Performing Arts, presented by The Cultch. On stage at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre until October 8. Visit thecultch.com for tickets and information.

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