Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fringe Review: SAMCA

Who: Spindle Collective and Riot King
What: SAMCA
Length: 60 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/866:609/

Spindle Collective and Riot King’s SAMCA tells a story of a unique bond between two sisters struggling with the harsh realities of their lives. Set, rather ominously, in feudal Transylvania, SAMCA uses projections, live instrumental and vocal music, dance, choral presentations, and fast-paced two-handed dialogue to draw the audience into its eerie yet enticing world of folktales and witchcraft.

Described by creators Natalia Bushnik and Kathleen Welch as a “contemporary horror folktale,” the story of sisters Miha and Prava provides a natural home for exploring themes of fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, the pain and danger that these themes entail, and different ways each can affect individual women.

This is a timely play, especially given the fragile state of women’s civil rights in certain states south of our border. Despite this timeliness, SAMCA’s epilogue diminished slightly the experience of seeing the play. Instead, the thematic exploration that SAMCA provides by way of its plot allows ample opportunity for audiences to understand the intentions of the playwrights. That said, SAMCA’s epilogue and a slightly stilted writing style that allowed for no verbal contractions are this reviewer’s only strikes against this deftly written allegorical folktale.

The lovely vocal harmonies from the chorus coupled with the live instruments played onstage provided my favourite element of this play—it’s not every day you get to see someone play a saw onstage. Strong themes and great performers always make for a good play, and SAMCA gives audiences both in good measure.

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