In the middle of a mass of magazines, empty junk food packages and large cardboard puppets made out of cut-outs of celebrities from People and the National Enquirer, two young sisters have been left to fend for themselves. 52 Pieces is a play by Kathleen Edwards that tells the story of these sisters, Kate and Galen, who are trying their best to take care of one another after the death of their mother and the incarceration of their alcoholic and neglectful father.
I think this is the first play that I have seen in the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival that I think would benefit from being longer. Edwards has created two very captivating and interesting characters and their interactions with one another reflect a rich, complex, but also incredibly beautiful sisterly relationship. This dynamic becomes threatened and tested by a shocking revelation by Galen in the shadow of their estranged father’s death from colon cancer. I found that I was so invested in Galen that the spilling forth of her confessions and the repercussions of this action came so quickly at the end of the play, that I was left feeling like I wanted to know more about this complicated, and obviously quite disturbed girl.
Edwards’ writing is captivating and darkly funny. I particularly appreciated how Kate’s dialogue was continually torn between a desire to act her age and have fun, but a strong need to play the responsible adult role. It’s very convincing when Kate’s focus in conversation keeps shifting between what she wants to say and what she needs to say. Edwards creates Galen to be emotionally underdeveloped, prone to wild temper tantrums and selfishness. Her distinct originality makes her a truly refreshing character to watch. There is this odd, but fantastic monologue about a centipede that she has, which is so simple, but speaks volumes about the girl’s frame of mind. There are still a few speeches filled with exposition that sound a bit contrived, but overall, Edwards is a promising storyteller and her characters spring eagerly to life.
Rebecca Perry plays Kate with a strong sense of her inner turmoil, although she does have a slight penchant toward melodramatics which detracts a bit from the grounded nature of the script. Harmonie Tower gives a very strong performance as Galen, infusing her with heart and passion, as well as a bitter sense of vengeance. It is this aspect of Galen’s character that I would love to see developed and explored in a longer piece.
52 Pieces is Kathleen Edwards’ first play and I think that there is much potential for her to become an exciting new voice in the Canadian theatre.
52 Pieces plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (79A St. George Street) at the following times:
Wed, July 7 9:15 PM
Thu, July 8 12:15 PM
Sat, July 10 11:00 PM
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.