Fringe Review: Endlings
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You need to see the play Endlings, the new play that uses the genre of science-fiction to explore the human condition. Playwrite Vishesh Abeyratne uses the acts of world-building and myth-making to consider and perhaps the worse of what we might become.
In Endlings, we meet Kurt and Octavia who are thrust into a cell together to forcible procreate. But Kurt resists any attempts from Octavia to get it over with. He wants to take it slow and learn about each other. This initial scene positions the dynamics of the two individuals: an idealist juxtaposed with an realist.
Abeyratne explains “It was my desire to explore how human beings could endure being treated like animals, being bred and inseminated like chattel. As I discovered the characters and the ruined world in which they lived, I found that in spite of all the indignities I inflicted on them, their souls were impossible to eradicate. “
As the story unfolds, Kurt and Octavia discover that contrary to their existing situation, our species cannot be written off as nothing more than a disease on the face of this planet, even given the plays setting of a future dystopia where humans have destroyed the surface of the planet. We're so much more that.
Abeyratne has set us up as an audience. “As a playwright, I love the idea of testing an audience's capacity for sympathy and empathy to the breaking point. It's so easy to empathize with someone we like, someone we find charming and sweet and affable. But if we can look at someone who's been so utterly disillusioned by their circumstances, and who have so many rough edges to them and still recognize some of our common humanity in them even though we completely dislike them…that is a crucial challenge to overcome, and I'm very curious to see who will. “
Abeyratne and his partner Laura Sosnow has been involved in the development of this play from its very inception. They talked about Kurt and Octavia's journey together a lot, and both internalized the characters right away.
That is obvious from their performance on stage. They are comfortable with each other, knew their lines and characters and the acting was engaging. I found the story entrancing as it was unfolding. The sound scape written by and composed by Joey Zaurrini added appropriate background mood. I feel that the staging could be improved to emphasize the changing dynamic between the two characters.
Overall, this is a play that has a solid story-line that effectively uses the genre of science-fiction to explore the theme of eugenics. I recommend you see it.
Playing at the Improv Embassy at 176 Rideau Street