Review by Devan Marr
60 mins | Drama | Mature
The Walk is a play with a heavy message that’s presented with a balanced touch. For the sake of full disclosure, it’s not a piece I would normally have gone to see. I like my Fringe comedies and quirky two- man shows, and in the past I’ve been burned by plays that relentlessly try to batter home a message over the course of an hour. The Walk, however, is not one of those pieces. While it’s a story about the horrors women and girls worldwide go through as a result of sex trafficking and the sex trade, it goes beyond simply saying, “this is bad, this is wrong, it should stop.”
There are several stories told simultaneously in The Walk. There’s the plight of faceless girls trapped in brothels in foreign lands, the story of Celestine and her child Allan who escaped after eight years of trafficking, and the tale of the actual writers of the play attempting to do justice to the piece. The production does a clever job of breaking up each of these stories through the use of lighting and live music.
When the story switches to the trafficked women or Celestine, a persistent drumming permeates the scenes and adds extra emotional force. At times it overpowered the dialogue, but for the most part it served to really draw the audience in with its foreboding beating. The sound parallels what’s going on in the scenes, from young girls begging their johns to pass on a message to their parents to a skilfully choreographed struggle between a girl and her ‘guardian.’ The stories are hard to hear, made all the more so by the impassioned acting of the actresses who play them. There’s a sense of futility in their scenes that just drives home how horrible things can be for those caught in the sex trade.
Then abruptly you’ll be brought back from this pessimistic narrative by Sister Catherine Anne (Beverly Wolfe), a quirky nun on a mission. Personally I feel her presence is what makes The Walk different from other attempts to stage a play with a necessary-but-difficult message. With her character’s quaint little sayings, and her almost unfaltering optimism, Wolfe provides just enough of an uplifting touch to balance this otherwise sorrowful topic. Much like her role of keeping the two other writers on task, Sister Catherine Anne allows the audience a little breathing room from the dark reality they’re watching.
The other characters all play their parts admirably, especially Dyna Ibrahim, who stars as Celestine. My one contention was with the character of Peter – one of the playwrights – who kept turning his back to half the audience. My advice for seeing this show is to sit either in the middle or left side of the stage in order to get the full view.
There is a lot going on in this play that I simply don’t have the space to write about. It’s one of those rare Fringe plays that has a large cast, several background structures, and props. From the acting to the production, everything about this play says it is meant to be taken as a professional piece and not just another Fringe play. It’s a serious production with an even more serious message, and it will certainly make an impact, but you shouldn’t be too emotionally battered by the end of it.
The Walk is playing at Venue 1 – Arts Court Theater (2 Daly Avenue) on Sunday, June 18 at 11:00pm; Sunday, June 19 at 4:00pm; Thursday, June 23 at 8:00pm; Friday, June 24 at 9:30pm; and Saturday, June 25 at 11:00pm.