Review by: Rebecca Costie
Does it engage or alienate? Does it challenge or just shock?
These are two of many questions that continue to pester me after experiencing Death Married My Daughter.
The opening scene is completely mesmerizing as Desdemona (Nina Gilmour) and Ophelia (Danya Buonastella), drawn by the stage lights of Hamilton Theatre Inc. and the scent of an expectant audience, drag, moan and squeak themselves onto the stage. From beginning to end, Gilmour and Buonastella do a brilliant job of manipulating their faces, bodies, voices. For the first 15 or 20 minutes, there is a comprehensible and engaging re-membering of two of Shakespeare’s dead girls and a thoughtful and challenging critique of “the established values of a Man’s society.” And then the show becomes a confusing (and sometimes shocking) mix of Ann Coulter, baby dolls, and fleeting references to twentieth century dictators.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a sucker for confusion. I’ve spent manymanymany hours staring at things like strange creations in glass boxes and time-lapse videos of decaying fruit, and watching “unconventional” films. When the art works, I feel energized and want more – disorientation and all. Unfortunately, Death Married my Daughter left me feeling disconnected and rather exhausted.
Maybe it’s just me and my lack of requisite knowledge. This production received two important nods at this year’s Toronto Fringe: Patrons’ Pick and Best of Fringe. What to do? What to do? If you are like me and enjoy giving your brain a good workout and believe confusion can be transformative, then Death Married My Daughter may be the perfect show for you.