11:11: Are You Certain What You Wish Is What You Want?

The cast of 11:11’s stringent publicity campaign has certainly paid off since I sat in a nearly sold-out house for their Opening Night show last evening. This play with music is a collective creation from Neptune Theatre School Pre-Professional Training Program Graduates (and Neptune Theatre Summer School Staff) Jessica Barry, John Han, Meghan Hubley and Kristin Slaney with the talents of Rebecca Falvey.
The show centers around two sisters, thirteen-year-old Hannah (Slaney) and ten-year-old Veronica (Falvey) and the wrath of teenage-hood that threatens to urge her to abandon their playland fort, their fanciful dreams and wishes, and their favourite television program in favor of the grownup world.
The play is divided into two separate entities, the world of the sisters and the world of their favourite television program, The Golden Spider Trio. In the television show, Pow (Meghan Hubley), Chow (John Han) and Meow (Jessica Barry) are artistic superheroes that seek to defeat a villain named General Malone. Malone reminded me of a characterization of what Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen called “vampires” in their musical [title of show], the evil feelings of self-doubt and insecurity that threaten to vanquish all that is bright and creative. It is a beautiful concept for a children’s show, one I would suggest Hubley and Barry et al. pitch to a network like YTV or Teletoon. Within the confines of time, I realize that it is difficult to sufficiently develop everything that warrants attention, but I did feel like General Malone’s conquest of Pow could have been expanded. I wanted to see an epic battle and confrontation between these characters and Malone, but of course, for Malone to be like Dr. Claw or The Shredder, and to be vanquished only temporarily “until next time…”
The dialogue between Hannah and Veronica, written by Meghan Hubley, was especially well written and captured the age and sensibilities of the characters nicely. I wanted to see a more solid correlation, however, between the sisters and The Golden Spider Trio. It seemed to me that Hannah, entering Junior High, would be entering the age where she would become excruciatingly vulnerable to the true-to-life equivalent of General Malone. It’s true that Veronica can not save Hannah from growing up, and in the end, Hannah leaves the idyllic world her sister loves so much, and ventures off on her own. However, as Jessica Barry writes in her program bio, “I believe in magic, I believe that it comes from children and from believing, not giving up and working together.” Here, it seems that artists, like Barry, and like Pow, Chow and Meow hold the key to creating a bridge between the magic, and the faith that children have innately, and the wishes (often called desires) and the faith (especially in themselves and their talents and abilities) that grownups need to work to cling to in order to survive the harshness of a tumultuous world. Without wanting to give away too much, the ending of this play left me puzzled because it felt like four of the most magical people I have ever met were leaving Hannah’s world drained of all the things Barry believes in so ardently. Is that reality? It can seem to be the case, but faith and hope, whether it’s wished for on a spider or a moonsprite, on a star, on Halloween, or in silence, never really dies.
Jessica Barry’s direction evokes childhood games and movements beautifully and the set is colorful, magical and homey. John Han and Kristin Slaney have created all-original music for this piece, and the standout song is the first that Slaney sings, which suits her lovely voice perfectly. The harmonies Han has created in such a short time are also remarkably beautiful. Han is also an exceptional performer who looks so at ease onstage and bursts with charm and gusto through the entire show. Rebecca Falvey gives a beautiful performance as Veronica; she has distinct comic timing and teems with earnest, wide-eyed wonder, so much so that it is nearly impossible to not fall in love with her.
It is clear that the co-creators of this piece spent the summer working with children, and in this way they are able to create a play that appeals to the young and young at heart without any element of patronization. I hope that the artists involved in this piece will continue to develop this play because I think it has great potential. Indeed, if they are able to write such a unique, charming piece in a few months, I look forward to seeing what marvel comes with the benefit of time.
11:11. 60 minutes; Tickets $6.00
Schedule: September 5, The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) @ 6:50 PM. September 6th, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 3:10 PM and @ 7:30 PM. September 7th, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 2:20 PM. September 8, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 7:20 PM. September 10th, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 7:20 PM. September 12, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 8:00 PM. September 13, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 3:40 PM.

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