THE PLACE BETWEEN by Michelle Olson and Lisa C. Ravensbergen, directed by Ravensbergen (Native Earth Performing Arts). At Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester). To April 15. $20-$25, Sunday pwyc. 416-531-1402. See Continuing, page 82. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Both human spirit and spirits dominate Native Earth Performing Arts ' The Place Between , which employs dance, text, music and legend to tell the story of three generations of Aboriginal women.
The close relationship between two sisters, Turnip ( Julie Tamiko Manning ) and Ash ( Aura Carcueva ), crumbles due to one's infidelity. The fallout from this stifles the evolution of the next two generations.
Although neither Turnip's daughter Totem ( Maria Christina James ) nor Totem's future daughter Bone ( Falen Johnson ) is born at the outset, director Lisa C. Ravensbergen and choreographer Michelle Olson include them onstage as silent spirits. But like a machine that requires four batteries, the piece is not fully charged until all four enter the living world.
It's uplifting to watch women of various body shapes and sizes dance Olson's modern choreography, with its tribal feel. But while all four are equally accomplished dancers, the same can't be said for their acting.
Manning dominates the stage as Turnip. She conveys huge range using her voice and body with equal agility. Johnson adds some welcome humour as the child Bone, but Carcueva's Ash suffers from her lack of voice control.
Hannu Huuskonen 's sound design works well, quickly establishing environments, and Jackie Chau 's sparse set is functional but unremarkable except for four gauzy screens that facilitate some interesting shadow play.
In the end, this long journey of betrayal and disappointment resolves too quickly.