March 2009

Katherine Mansfield
by Theatre Smith-Gilmour
March 14 – April 5, 2009 Factory Studio Theatre Toronto
For the Art of It
by David Fujino
Theatre Smith-Gilmour has just brought to stage a new version of last year's Mansfield Project that was based on the short stories of Katherine Mansfield.

Now it's titled, Katherine Mansfield.

Basically it's a re-imagining and trimming of the previous production and has added a new story, "The Fly".

It was odd to see this new play, then come home and keep replaying in one's mind the scenes where Constantia (Claire Calnan) is engaged in extended conversations with her quiet sister, Josephine (Michele Smith) from the story, "The Daughters of the Late Colonel".

Where nothing much happens.

But these remembered conversations proved to be a slight departure from Theatre Smith-Gilmour's brand of physical theatre where physical action dominates, the spoken text is usually minimal, and the stage is kept meticulously bare.

Through blocking, facial expressions, voices, and bodies, the dressed-in-black troupe deftly embodied the stories and psychological worlds of Mansfield's writing. The bracing sound effects (wind, creaking door, horse's whinny, a man's cry) were created by the actors when off stage.

The new scene, "The Fly", started out with two men meeting and ended with one man alone in his den, drowning a fly in pools of ink. It got a laugh, it was true to life, and revealed Mansfield's acute awareness of man's dark side.

In this latest production, 'Smith-Gilmour' have again achieved a watchable and personal theatrical reflection of Katherine Mansfield's worlds.

Here's what the Le Coq-inspired co-founders have to say about their acting/writing process:

"Slowly the story emerges and there is precision. We have no formula and there is no method. We follow our noses and the great writers that inspire us."

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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