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Theatre: Outrun The Mill (Toronto, ON)

Playwright: Outrun The Mill
Director: Outrun The Mill
Cast: Bessie Cheng, Chelsea Haraburda

Warnings: Mature Content, Strong Language
Show Type: Drama, Physical Theatre
Audience: Mature
Running Time: 40 min

Reviewed by Amanda Cheung

A strong knock on a door behind the audience rings through the Art Forms Youth Arts Studio as Paperweights begins its third performance as part of Hamilton Fringe 2015.

As Chelsea gets the door and returns to her desk on the left, and Bessie goes to her desk on the right, parallelism begins throughout the play.

Paperweights is inspired by Bessie Cheng’s experiences of immigrating to Canada from China. The play explores Bessie’s relationship with her father as well as her relationship between her Caucasian roommate Chelsea Haraburda. They have known each other for three years, but because of cultural differences, they are unable to connect, communicate and care for each other well.

Throughout the performance, little subtleties play out showing the small differences between their two cultures, such as making eye contact when cheering drinks, or the different ways of counting to ten with their fingers.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty of all is in the way each communicates to one other. Both characters are at a point in their lives where they need to make a big decision in order to move forward. Both seek the comfort and support of the other, but both interpret and receive that information rather differently than intended.

Quite strongly, using a simple but creative set up, the play delivers to the audience the desire for community each character has and the need to learn in ways spoken and unspoken, what the other is saying.

Using shadows, light and paper stencils, the thoughts, dreams and struggles of each character are powerfully demonstrated, along with their desire to reach out to one another and what it takes to break those barriers down.

Difficulty in delivering and interpreting information cross-culturally is genuine, but with both characters working towards breaking those barriers down, can they both come to an understanding and move forward in their lives?

Paperweights will be having three more showings on July 22, 23 and 26 at 8:00pm at Art Forms Youth Arts Studio as part of Hamilton Fringe 2015.

For more information and show times for Hamilton Fringe 2015, visit http://hamiltonfringe.ca/

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