Four chairs, two ladders and a foot-long paper mache model of the Titanic. With these modest props the Fringe’s Titanic has created a piece of drama that rivals James Cameron’s $200 million dollar film in its suspenseful depiction of the infamous tragedy. Based on E. J. Pratt’s 1935 epic poem of the same name, the play weaves an elegant and winding narrative of the sailing and sinking of the famous ship. And even though we all know how the story ends, Kenneth Brown’s production had me holding my breath, hoping for the Carpathia to arrive in time to save the thousands on board.
Watching the play’s four young actors at work was enchanting. Consisting of Melanie Godbout, Kate Jestadt, Matt Randolf and Bradley Bergeron, the quartet comfortably slipped into every one of the myriad of characters that the poem required of them. Whether they were changing their accents or changing their gender performance, the transitions were creative and seamless. The actors spoke the twisting poetry with a natural ease, and their faces adopted every emotion with striking realism. It allowed for the audience to be entirely enveloped in the small glimpses of passengers’ lives, to be entirely invested in the small acts of bravery and tragedy described.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic- it seems so far off. Even after all the numerous television documentaries that aired this spring the event seems lost in the fog of history; the hubris that allowed the ship to sail and sink seems distant and foolish. The Titanic serves to remind us that the people on the ship were not unlike ourselves, and causes us to pause, if only for a moment, and imagine ourselves in their position. That is an incredibly powerful achievement for a 55-minute play. It’s that achievement (perhaps paired with the fact that I’m a history nut) that allows me to say that The Titanic is one of the most satisfying plays I’ve seen in years. Whether you go for the history, the astounding acting, the beautiful poetry or the creative and constant movement, check out The Titanic. You won’t regret it.
The Titanic will be playing at La Cite francophone until August 26. Tickets can be found here.