Friday, September 22, 2023

Frost Bites Review: The House Key Project

Who: Porch Light Theatre
What: The House Key Project
Length: 40 minutes
Theatre Aquarius Art Centre (191 King William Street)
When: Remaining shows February 19 at 7:30pm, February 20 at 6:00pm
Tickets: $15.50
To Buy Tickets:

In a society that asks each and every one of us to conform, it can be an uphill battle to find your own voice and identity. People on all signs try to influence how you act and what you think; some will judge you if you don’t fit the mold, and others will judge you if you do. It takes bravery and determination to be yourself, especially when the rest of society has a reason to see you as “different”, or when someone in a position of power decides you’re not good enough.

In 2022, The House Key Project was a sellout hit at the Hamilton Fringe. Three of the four original performers return to the Fringe for Frost Bites this year which showcases Darnie Tran, Willow Martin, Oyinpreye Godwin and Angelica Reid. They’re four young BIPOC performers who’ve been given the chance to tell their own stories the way they want to, and I can say for certain that they’ve seized that opportunity magnificently. The resulting performance was thought-provoking, inspiring, uplifting, and overall a joy to watch.

Individuality, self-expression, honesty and self-awareness: these are the keys to—and highlights of—The House Key Project. Each of the four performers is practiced, precise and exceptional, and each performance is unique from all the others. They’ve clearly found their own voices and identities, and there’s no mistaking one for any of the others. There’s direct spoken accounts, metaphorical poetic freeform, energetic rhythmic flow, and even musical elements. Each performer has something different to share.

Of course, while uniqueness is something to be recognized and celebrated, it’s not the only reason why this show is good. The contents of a script are just as important as the manner of their delivery, and the stories told here were gripping, engaging and deeply immersive. Sometimes, a show has you glancing repeatedly at the nearest clock, but this one almost feels like it was over too soon. That isn’t a critique per se—there’s nothing wrong with being short and sweet—but if they’d wanted it to be longer, I could easily have kept on watching.

Fair warning: much of this show grapples with dark thoughts and harsh realities, and the performers don’t shy away from expressing their personal truths. As I expressed earlier, though, the sharing of these personal stories is beautifully inspiring in the end. I sincerely hope that they enjoyed putting the show together as much as I enjoyed watching it, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s willing to sit down and listen.

Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock is a graduate of McMaster University, Mohawk College and Algonquin College. He's spent nearly all his life in Hamilton, and has been reviewing plays at the Fringe since 2015. He has a passion for writing of all kinds, and loves to combine that with a longtime interest in local theatre.

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