Drama – The Middle Place Review

On February the 23rd 2011, our grade 11 drama class went and saw The Middle Place. This play was based upon interviews taken place at the Rexdale Youth Center. This play is a piece of verbatim theatre meaning it is directly taken from the words a person has said. The venue that we saw this play in was the Berkeley Downstairs Theatre on 26 Berkeley Street.

The venue itself was very large with 2 theatres and a lot of office and rehearsal space. There were maybe like 100 seats in this particular theatre including a balcony. These seats were comfortable but closely placed together in order to maximize seating, therefore if I had had to sit there for longer than an hour I would have been very uncomfortable. Our tickets were 19$ but that was a student rate and I’m not sure how much an adult ticket would cost.

The director’s name is Alan Dilworth. He has directed many plays since the year 2002 and also won a few awards including Best Emerging Male Director of 2008- NOW Magazine and Summerworks Jury Prize for Outstanding Production, If We Were Birds, 2008.

In The Middle Place, there were 5 actors yet almost 12 or 13 roles therefore they all had a tough job to show each character perfectly and honestly and these actors did a fantastic job at that. Each character had a different way of speaking or acting and they were able to easily bounce from one to the other without even blinking. That is an incredible thing and they should really be applauded for that. I enjoyed each of the actors because of the way they were able to be 3 or 4 different people all throughout the play so my least favorite was probably Andrew, the real interviewer of these kids and actor. For his part, he sat up on the balcony and asked the questions to the actors. Maybe it was because I wasn’t focused on him because he wasn’t right in front of me but I feel like his role just faded into the background. His voice just became background sounds and I didn’t actually get to see him act. I do very much appreciate him as a person because of what he started. He spoke to all the kids and wrote the play and that is an amazing thing. For that he should also be applauded.

The stage was very simple. All it had was a black background and a huge white oval that the cast stood on during the performance. Its simplicity was very affective because these kids do not have much, therefore they would not need much to portray these kids in the play. The most important thing about these kids is what they have to say and without much set it was easier to focus on what they were saying like we are supposed to. There were not any scene changes but there were a lot of role changes and to do so the actors would do a dance move to turn into the other kids they were playing and they would step off of the oval to change from the kid to the case workers in the shelter. This was very affective also because you could see the difference easily in between all the characters.

The costumes in The Middle Place were also very simple yet affective. These kids do not have much so they do not have tones of clothes to wear. Every actor wore simple sweat pants and sweaters in simple colors to show how little they have. The actors did not change clothing in between each character they just changed positions. Just the change of stance or hand placement took you from one character to another and that was all we needed to understand.

The actors all projected their voices well even if they were playing a shy and timid person. Even Andrew who was up in the balcony could still be heard clearly. The sounds were all on cue and never were a big distraction from what the actors were doing.

The performance was a little bit slow because it was verbatim and there was no real climax but it did fit the story properly. The script was based on true stories and even though they have gone through some tough things it is their real stories and there isn’t always a huge part that becomes the climax. The pace of the actors changed depending on the characters and what the questions were. If there were questions asked that the kids were reluctant to answer the pace was slower but when the kids enjoyed and wanted to answer the question the pace was a bit faster because they were excited.

The actors performed very well and you could tell they are all very talented people. They were true to the end to their characters and tried to interpret them the best they could and they were believable. As I said before they all projected well no matter what tone of voice they used. They did not have much space to move around because they were always on the white oval but they used the space well without blocking each other or seeming crowded.

I enjoyed the performance as a whole because all the actors were phenomenal and I really enjoyed the message they were trying to give. As for the way it was presented, I didn’t completely enjoy because it was a little choppy at places. Things jumped from one topic to another then back to the old one and it got a little confusing. I guess I did also expect a climax when there wasn’t really one but as Mrs. Maxwell- Steele said “there is a difference between entertaining and teaching” and I really enjoyed what they taught me with The Middle Place.

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