Edinburgh Fringe 2017
A one woman show inspired by the true story of Subica’s search for her grandmother after twenty years of separation, even though they only live streets apart in Toronto’s Little Portugal.
Subica is an engaging performer and on a small stage, seemingly bathed in sunshine (a great lighting plot for such a small venue), she gives an endearing performance, indeed performances. She plays not only herself as Kayla the child and young woman but also several of her extended family.
She is telling a story from her life as daughter of Portuguese immigrants to Toronto, growing up in a large family much steeped in the cultural traditions of their homeland. Life is good, apart from teasing aunts, gross out boy cousins, and a rather strict Mum. The one cloud is the lack of family contact with her Dad’s mother and gradually Kayla picks away at the mystery.
Subica is great at characterisation. She brings to life her own young self and a host of other relatives and almost pulls it off. There are possible a couple of characters too many for one performer to juggle. One of her challenges is that a key player, Aunt Manuela, is very lugubrious and after a while one wishes for her get on with it! In staying too true to her source material Subica has missed the opportunity to create a character with more brio or introduce someone who is more flighty or angry to create contrast and tension – it doesn’t have to be true to life, this is theatre. In short she needs to generate more excitement from the raw ingredients.
If the show transfers on some consideration could be paid to the set. This is a drama not a talk on family anecdotes and the company could think about a stand-alone backdrop and simple set dressing. Maybe a soundscape would add to the audience experience too – for the street scenes, the hospital, the family home.
This is a gentle tale which really brings a particularly community vividly to life and is well worth an hour of your time. And there is a free custard tart at the end; a lovely touch to bring a little bit of Portugal to Edinburgh.