There is a line in the play Gaia written by Simon Esler and produced by Intelligent Infinity as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival saying, “We have learned to imbue meaning into what we don’t understand in order to survive.” This line jumped out at me while I was watching this piece because I felt like it was an accurate depiction of what I was doing as I watched the play.
Gaia is a mixture between a poetic piece of physical theatre and a science fiction story about the coming of Wave One, an extraterrestrial force of radiation that has the power to change human consciousness as we know it. The result is a dream world, where Mother Earth is anthropomorphized and each human under the spell of Wave One must forge a relationship with her or perish.
There are interesting ideas in this play, and eloquent dialogue that challenge the audience to think about scientific concepts, from the rocks that form our Earth’s core to the atoms that fill every inch of our space, in a more poetic and creative way. At one point the scientist, George Gillman, mostly convincingly played by Barry Birnberg, speaks about the act of naming things and how in giving an inanimate object, such as a boat, a name, it forges a deeper relationship between the person and the thing. The name reflects our care. This is then connected to the human race’s connection to our Mother Planet, for if we can see her as being a living being, perhaps that will inspire us to protect her from our harmful ways of life.
The ideas in this play are lofty, and the dream-like physicality of the female performers, Anna Wheeler, Eva Barrie and Marie Franceschini, is at times evocative and always interesting. I found that more often, it was me superimposing my own ideas and my own meanings, onto this work because there was not enough clarity of vision for me to experience the sort of epiphany about the sustainability of the world that I felt like this play needed.
Gaia plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) at the following times:
Mon, July 5 6:15 PM
Tue, July 6 8:45 PM
Fri, July 9 11:00 PM
Sat, July 10 2:15 PM
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.