THE SCRUBBING PROJECT created and performed by Jani Lauzon, Monique Mojica and Michelle St. John, directed by Muriel Miguel. Presented by Native Earth and Turtle Gals in association with Factory in the Factory Studio (125 Bathurst). Runs to December 8, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$25, Sunday pwyc-$18. 416-504-9971. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Here's clever, inventive vaudeville like you've never seen before, presented by a trio of talented women whose combined energy and heart could be an alternative source of Ontario power.The Scrubbing Project, created and performed by the Turtle Gals (Jani Lauzon, Monique Mojica and Michelle St. John), jumps back and forth between a heaven of strong females and an earth of troubled native women, using an intentional shotgun style that blends song, dance, text, video and comedy. Throw in an undercurrent of genocide, historic and internalized, and the result is disturbing and entertaining.
The three actors, working zestfully with director Muriel Miguel, have lots of fun as goddess types, the Marx Brothers, Broadway chanteuses and cartoon characters, but they also tell tales about wanting to be white rather than brown -- that's the purpose of the scrubbing -- and carrying around centuries of history as outsiders and victims. There's also some Jewish blood -- and Jewish bubbies -- in the mix that makes the stories even more tense.
The sharp comic style often coats the chilling moments, making the latter even more surprising and upsetting. The women use and parody stereotypes and aren't above sending themselves up at times. Their combination of anger, guilt and memory is striking and pungent.
Not everything runs smoothly yet. The Marx Brothers sketches are so fast that you can't understand the important puns, and the tonal shifts aren't wholly successful. Still, the wonderfully funny and the horribly unnerving have rarely been so well mixed. By its end, The Scrubbing Project is an empowering piece about survival. And where else will you hear Somewhere Over The Rainbow chanted to a native beat?