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In Between
Presented by Brigette DePape

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Reviewed: 2005-07-24 13:39:53
Rated: 8 out of 10 [4 Stars]
By: John Chase (Director@winnipegonstage.com)

I suspect this production's attendance may suffer from older patrons wondering why they would wish to see a show about a fifteen year old girl: a question that isn't addressed in its publicity.

Let me be the one to say that this isn't a show about a fifteen year old girl; it's a show that stars a fifteen year old girl. The show itself is about life and death, love and hate, sadness, joy, and the range of human emotions that we as performers and patrons come to the theatre to create and witness. As an audience member watching Brigette DePape create her afterlife character of Sedwig, I began to share them; and though my reviews speak only for myself, I daresay that the damp eyes of all ages that I witnessed around me on Saturday would agree.

For the many artists that believe as I do -- that age is measured by the number of years one has been performing -- the years lived by the actual performer becomes inconsequential. It is clear in watching her that Ms DePape is no stranger to the stage, and has the training necessary for effective performance. She was confident and relaxed and quickly became one with both her material and audience. In doing so, she gave me something that I deeply look for from any performer: something real. Not only was her vocal and physical technique sound, but she achieved a veritable rainbow of levels and emotions during her time on the stage. Certain moments revealed a lack of the experience necessary to know fully when and how to best use them all, but sheer enthusiasm and honesty made up for it.

The show would have benefited from a re-evaluation of its technical side, which was full of good ideas: many that worked, and some that needed final polishing. The set -- composed almost entirely of mime boxes -- was rearranged at times with deliberate purpose, and at others for no apparent reason. The abrupt shifts in lighting, especially, were something that I found extremely effective in certain scenes, but almost jarring in others.

Given that the performer is also the author, the script must bear mentioning here. It had a few quirks, such as a letter that is produced in grand fashion early on, ultimately leaving the audience with unanswered questions about its mysterious contents. A bus stop is onstage throughout the show, the purpose for which is revealed to the audience during one of the final climactic moments, but comes quite out of left field, not having been alluded to up until that point. Overall, however, it is a solid and dramatic piece of writing.

My biggest complaint about the production was, unfortunately, the ending: not in its scripting, but in the emotion with which the last moments were performed. Though the overall idea was correct, I found them to suddenly explode in over-driven energy. Trying not to give too much away, I feel that the culmination of this character's experiences should have been shared with the audience on a level of much deeper serenity. It nevertheless says something about the show when what I consider to be a botched ending sequence did not ruin my enjoyment of it.

I would rate the technical elements of "In Between" at the three-star mark, as I did not find they had the finesse required for four stars; however the script did, Ms DePape's performance certainly did, and -- with the temperament of stronger direction -- I don't doubt that her raw talent could have been pushed to a full five.

Sedwig's story is one that I recommend to everyone. I think any one of us would have been proud to have known her.

John Chase
July 24, 2005

(Note: This production is part of the 2005 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. Visit - http://www.winnipegfringe.com/ )

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