The most magical staging in the Fringe took place in the children's playground of the Bloor JCC, as Alon Nashman carried his audience through the inner and outer life of Alphonse, a creative boy who loses and then regains his sense of the wonder found in play and playfulness.
Creating several dozen characters in Wajdi Mouawad's script -- which contrasts fanciful childhood imagination with no-nonsense adult information -- Nashman fills his production with different voices and splendid effects, including a popcorn rainstorm and a bunch of balloons that sail off to new adventures. Using multiple spaces in the playground, including a sandbox, various roofs and platforms, Nashman conjures up the twin paths of kid fantasy and grown-up tedium.
There's no doubt which route actor and writer prefer to travel. Still, despite Nashman's insistence on having an audience that mixed old and young, the piece speaks more eloquently and movingly to adults. We grown-ups are aware of the two paths -- by and large, children aren't -- and need to be reminded of what so many of us have left behind.
ALPHONSE, by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Shelley Tepperman, performed and directed by Alon Nashman. Presented by Theaturtle, Bloor JCC and the Fringe in the JCC courtyard playground. July 6-16. Rating: NNNN
Up the sandbox