Events · Ottawa

Discovering Ottawa’s Festivals: Youth Infringement

It’s festival season in the nation’s capital and last night I attended the Youth Infringement Festival which is dedicated to showcasing young playwrights, actors, directors and stage managers in a professional theatre setting.

There were three plays showing last night and each one was special in its own way. I’m not trying to be cliche, just honest. The first production was a one woman show entitled Lucy which detailed the struggles the protagonist [Lucy] faces being the daughter of Death.

Yes, Death with a capital D, as in the Grim Reaper whose skeletal appearance terrifies everyone but her. The show left me silent when it reached its end; its haunting message focused on relationships, familial and friendly alike. Lucy’s first appearance gave the impression of a bitter, young woman whose life has been marred by difficulty and struggle. She drinks, smokes electronic cigarettes and wallows in memories because Lucy knows eventually they’re all she will have left. Living forever is a curse and a blessing according to Lucy who narrates her world travels and her encounters with numerous greats, including Van Gogh throughout the duration of the show. Lucy was definitely a perfect beginning to the evening.

After a brief interlude the second production, entitled The Anomaly was performed which provided the audience with much needed comic relief. It exuded a feel of dark science fiction spiced with terrific comedic timing and culminated in a wonderful, lighthearted performance. Reminiscent of The Blob and The Creature from the Black Lagoon which were both featured in the play’s script it brought a smile to my face. The narrator added extra hilarity as he swiftly entered and exited the stage in a stiff fashion so at odds with the happy and fluid actions of the rest of the actors. Well put together and simple, this play caused me to feel nostalgic and happy.

Following a second intermission I attended the final play of the night, The Ever-Present Witness. This production was the reason I went to the festival at all; one of my colleagues in Humanities, Madison Jolliffe, was the playwright for this particular performance.

Honestly, I was not too sure about the actual content of the play at first. At the beginning it depicts a happy family, a very happy family – too happy, in fact. Nevertheless, the perfection is soon shown to be a false front for fatal flaws in each family member.

As the plot progressed I found myself becoming more and more removed from the characters, then, suddenly, I found myself drawn straight into the play by a new character’s presence. The entrance of another friend from Humanities, Euan Wheaton, breathed fresh life into the story. His character provided swift and snappy comedic timing that had the audience laughing constantly. I started to become attached to the storyline as the character’s individual lives began to hurtle towards an explosive collision with reality; everything just clicked into place for me as the climax began. The story was about the superficiality of our modern society that prefers people cover up their mistakes and demons instead of airing them to those we are supposed to trust most, namely family.

This play was a profound commentary on Western societal ideals and how detachment or obliviousness is often seen as desirable rather than vested interest or honesty.

At the end of the performance, I was struck by the beautifully crafted simplicity of the words used to express each character’s frustrations and latent desires. I must say, the fridge was most certainly my favourite character – he was definitely the ever-present witness to his family’s dirty little secrets.

I wish both of my HumsChums good luck with their future endeavours, which will hopefully, for the good fortune of Ottawa’s theatre scene, involve both acting and writing.

I also encourage any of you who have not yet experienced Ottawa’s Youth Infringement Festival yet to do so right away.


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