Who: Soul Gem Theatre Productions
Length: 40 minutes
Where: The Zoetic (526 Concession Street)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at https://boxoffice.hftco.ca/event/866:568/
Sondra Learn’s Dedication presents a story of three sisters, orphaned at a young age by a traffic collision that took both of their parents’ lives. One sister, Lucy (played by Kyla McCall), is an author with a new manuscript on the go, and as she fondly recollects memories of her and her sisters’ life together she struggles to come up with what she should say in her manuscript’s dedication.
As the audience enters the theatre, we see Shirley, played by Inese Hill, asleep in a rocking chair clutching a manuscript. A small writing desk and a trunk with a padded top are the only other set pieces. As the house lights go down and the stage lights go up, Lucy, enters and wakes her sister. Discussions between Lucy and Shirley trigger recollections that involve Lucy, Shirley, and their sister Patty, played by Amy McCarroll.
Hill and McCall have good chemistry together, and each gets a moment to shine: McCall gets to flex her physical-comedy muscles in a bout with a classic board-game, and Hill tugs at the audience’s heartstrings in a moving final moment. Dedication’s central message is that life and memories are precious, and, although we may desperately want to cling to a moment or a person, it’s far better to experience and love something, but then to let it go.
The production suffers from slow transitions: since each of the sisters’ recollections was bookended by blackouts, the pacing of the show’s scenes dragged a bit. Putting pacing issues to one side, though, Dedication also featured some lovely imagery in its writing, such as the scene in which Lucy describes her dream of running through the flowers.
Dedication reminds us that even in our most hectic moments it’s important to remember the ones we love.