Fruit Fruit Mouth Mouth, which plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a physical theatre adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” (1862), with a redundant academic twist.
Rossetti’s poem tells the story of two young, very close sisters, Laura and Lizzie, and how one sister, Laura, becomes seduced to trade a lock of hair for the goblins’ forbidden fruit (which she eats in a “Bacchic frenzy,” and then becomes cursed when she is no longer able to access the goblin’s market and withers up and nearly dies. Lizzie decides to go and pay with a silver coin, not trading her hair, and take the fruit “to go” instead of enjoying all its pleasures in the presence of the goblins, and so they proceed to assault her, and she becomes covered in the fruit’s juices. Once she returns home her sister licks and sucks and kisses all this juice from her sister’s skin and is restored to herself again.
The Illume Collective bring the story to life in a captivating and interesting way. The goblins, who serve as the story’s narrators, have strange voices, which are difficult to decipher at times, but overall the cast use their bodies in evocative ways to really bring this poem, in all its complexity, to life.
The problem here is that the Illume Collective bring this poem, in all its complexity, to life, and then they try to un-complicate it, for the benefit of showing the audience that it can be interpreted in many different ways- that the goblins can be played as “girls” (at a slumber party, obviously), the sisters can be played as brothers (who enjoy being sexualized and seduced by the female goblins, obviously), the assault on Lizzie can be obviously called a rape, the sucking of Lizzie’s juice-covered flesh by Laura can be obviously portrayed as sexual. It’s a didactic attempt to explain to the audience what is already inherent in the first piece, and in much less interesting ways.
The Illume Collective doesn’t trust that its audience is insightful enough to appreciate the nuance and complexity of Rossetti’s poem on its own and in the process becomes the theatrical equivalent of Cole’s Notes, which is about as exciting as it sounds.
TWISI FRINGE RATING:
fruit fruit mouth mouth plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:
July 09 at 07:30 PM buy tickets
July 11 at 09:45 PM buy tickets