THE FORT AT YORK by Tara Beagan and the company, directed by Beagan and Chris Reynolds (Crate Productions). Fort York (100 Garrison). To October 13. Pwyc-$35. 1-888-222-6608. Rating: NNN
It's one thing to have a script and then find an inspiring venue. It's another thing to pick a space and let it inspire the work.
For The Fort At York , a new show by Crate Productions (Tape, Blackbird), playwright Tara Beagan (Quilchena) does just that, starting with the very storied (and very sprawling) Fort York. Two years in the making, the result is an engaging, often funny and at times eerie period piece set on the eve of the Battle of York in 1813 that, in its finest moments, brings the soldiers and women who lived there to life and gives them a pulse and a point of view.
As uniformed guards lead audience members into the candle-lit buildings and other locations, a series of fictional and interrelated stories plays out. The claustrophobic gunpowder magazine becomes the apt setting for a young soldier's trippy descent into madness, while, in the barracks, Michael Wheeler gives a riveting performance as Everett, laying bare his pathological need to control his wife as he recounts his troubled past.
While the piece has its flaws -- we're told time and time again that the Americans are coming with daybreak and yet this information never weighs on the characters as it should -- you can forgive them, as much because of the elegant structure of the script as because of the magic it weaves.
Criss-crossing the lawn from one performance site to another, we continually meet up with a trio of buffoonish soldiers, one of whom ( Tawiah M'carthy ) swears he can see ghosts (the audience) and strange lights. The scene works doubly: it knits together the play's disparate settings and also provides a connection between worlds. Our presence, and the glow of the nearby skyscrapers, gets cast in a new and eerie light.