SALT BABY by Falen Johnson (Salt Baby). Factory Studio. See listing.
Times: January 5 at 9 pm, January 6 and 8 at 7:15 pm, January 7 at 7 pm, January 10 at 5:15 pm, January 11 at 9:15 pm, January 12 at 5 pm, January 13 at 8:45 pm. $12-$15. 416-966-1062. Rating: NNN
Outward appearance and inward truth are at the heart of Salt Baby, Falen Johnson's thoughtful and entertaining play about a Six Nations woman whose light skin means she's seen differently than others in her relatives, both on the rez and in the city.
As Salt Baby (the fine Paula Jean Prudat) investigates the percentage of her native blood - she's mostly Mohawk and Tuscarora, but there's possibly a white ancestor mixed in, too - she needs to know for sure what her quantum numbers are. Turning to her father (Timothy L. Hill), her new boyfriend (James Cade) and a host of others (all played by Derek Garza) for their opinions, she tries to sort out what being native means to her.
This isn't a soul-searching drama, though, for Johnson's loaded her script with comedy, much of it well played under director Yvette Nolan.
Hill's Dad offers the most grounded figure in Salt Baby's life, but even he has a touch of humour along with his sage wisdom. Garza's multiple characters are sometimes unnecessarily broad, but his trickster-like Grandpa, seen only by his granddaughter, has the right twinkle in his eye.
The best moments of the production are the scenes between Prudat and Cade, who generate a sexy, funny and engaging chemistry, whether they're engaged in a Star Trek competition or rolling around in the bedroom.