BETTER PARTS written, directed and performed by Nicole Stamp, with Paul Clifford, and FISH EYES written and performed by Anita Majumdar, directed by Gregory Prest. Presented as part of Stage3 at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Better Parts runs in rep to October 29, Fish Eyes to November 5, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$30, Sunday limited pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
I like nothing better than seeing recent theatre school grads takin' it to the stage with their own badass creations. In Better Parts , Nicole Stamp takes the spotlight to sound off in rhyme about her lame temp job. She imagines herself living out a fantasy that involves becoming everyone from a blues-singing jazzy mamma to a seductive diva to well, pushing paper just ain't on her list. But she's not bitching. She believes in her better parts, her optimism, her winning smile and her active imagination.
Stamp is accompanied by musician Paul Clifford , whose agile work on the double bass enhances her monologue with a cool, urban vibe. This show would make a great short film, but the mood's the thing, and it's done best with a live audience.
Similarly, Anita Majumdar 's Fish Eyes is about a young woman living with one foot in reality and the other in fantasy. Majumdar plays Meena, who at 17 desperately wants to fit in, and Kalyani Aunty, Meena's headstrong dance teacher who learned all her English from Three's Company. Kalyani wants Meena to go to India to enter a dance contest, but Meena just wants an awesome summer with the popular kids.
Their conflict gives Majumdar a split personality: she's Meena and Kalyani, a dancer and an actor, Indian and Canadian, elegant and hilarious.
Majumdar uses emphatic dance elements to switch between characters, but it's not only her dancing that impresses: it's her comic timing and quirky turn of phrase. Like Stamp, she's got the details down, and all she's got to do is step onstage and live 'em.
What's great about this double-bill is that these young women write and perform their own pieces exploring their ethnic identities, and the result - shocker! - is easily accessible without being simplistic. Both shows comment about what it's like to be a young woman today without becoming predictable or morose.
No matter what your background, you can relate.