Buckle My Shoe

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gina clayton & lily scriven

There is a moment in Alexis Bernier and Nastasia Pappas-Kemps’ play Buckle My Shoe, which plays through July 11, 2015 as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. where the protagonist, Emma, begins to muse about just how inconsequential everything she has been musing about, at length, for the entirety of the play, really is, which leads to the question, then why should the audience care?

Emma cannot sleep, she is in half-consciousness, having conversations with her 18 year old self in beautiful, poetic language that builds vague images upon vague images, upon vague insinuations and vague suggestions, until she decides not to decide and the stage goes dark. There are words, so many words, it’s incredible that Gina Clayton, who plays older Emma, is able to say so much without actually telling the audience anything. Younger Emma is a bit more specific, but her choice of which memories to ruminate on don’t build on one another in a clear way. She tells us about the day she, as a child, flew, literally flew, while running down the stairs in anticipation of bacon. Then she takes it back and says, she didn’t actually fly after all, she actually fell and there probably wasn’t even bacon. It’s clear we have an unreliable narrator, and it’s difficult to want to engage and to care when Emma tells us so often not to, and makes it almost impossible for us to connect with her.

There are people who will love to listen to the language in this play, and who will be captivated by Clayton and Lily Scriven’s lovely command of it, but for the people who want to know who Emma is and why this story is important for us to hear and who want to know what these playwrights are saying, rather than being given an open-ended opportunity to decipher it however we please, Buckle My Shoe is like a will’o-the-wisp floating ephemeral, like a dream, but one whose message is so muddled, it quickly gets forgotten.

TWISI FRINGE RATING: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Ergo Arts Theatre’s Buckle My Shoe plays at St. Vladimir Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue) at the following times:

show times
July 04 at 11:30 PM  buy tickets
July 05 at 09:15 PM  buy tickets
July 07 at 01:00 PM  buy tickets
July 08 at 06:00 PM  buy tickets
July 09 at 01:45 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 01:45 PM  buy tickets