Review: The Garden of Alla by Minmar Gaslight Productions
Every flower loses its bloom, catch this must see before it's sold out!
Show: The Garden of Alla
Show Date: July 6th 8:00PM
Factory Theatre Mainspace
Review by: Armon Ghaeinizadeh
“I don’t read the paper; I choose not to be sad.” The Garden of Alla effectively explores the fight queer artists must endure to stay alive as set in old Hollywood in the 1920s. Polished, subtle, and simply sublime, every element of the production was clear, concise, and masterfully executed.
When the show first began, as an artist in his 20s, I initially felt that this play was not for me, had nothing to do with me, and that I was not the target audience or demographic the production was looking to hit. Regardless of my pre-conceived notions, the show was bursting with brilliant lines and every element from the direction to the set design, to the phenomenal costuming were all seamlessly interwoven. With subtle lines like, “Women who live on the edge” this piece brilliantly spoke to feelings of marginalization, queerness, Bi-erasure, and the pressure to fake it until you make it. It also explored the notion of ageing, beauty, and vanity -all intriguing discussions that I would argue are still very necessary topics of discussion especially in a queer context.
Rebecca Perry was phenomenal, Shawn Lall delivered honesty with his nuanced performance, and Neta J Rose is simply brilliant with a remarkably genuine energy. The entire team was phenomenal and well-polished, and you could tangibly feel the genuine emotions behind the text that may at points seem simple and direct. The set in Alla’s Garden literally WILTED as the show progressed. We feel the characters grow old and fall apart through the simple yet brilliant directorial decision to have plants slowly vanish. I never noticed a plant disappear, but by the end, I realized all the flowers had gone, all the leaves had fallen, and that sometimes, continuing to fight for visibility or acclaim as a queer artist is nothing but nurturing a plant in a garden that will eventually wilt and die.
One last note I would like to draw attention to is the active community building post-show. It used to be more common for artists to support and recommend each other’s work in the Fringe. Post-show the cast mentioned other artists to support, and also made an offer for audience members to shout out their own work to the audience. This moment of community building re-ignited my fringe spirit that had been lost through the last few digital years. To me, art is not just about storytelling, it is about education, uplifting each other, and collective growth.
Poetic, clear and incredibly well executed, go see The Garden of Alla now before it sells out.
Armon Ghaeinizadeh (he/him) is a Toronto based Actor, Director, Choreographer, Producer, Playwright and now... Theatre Critic? A UofT Drama Centre graduate, Armon is the Artistic Director of New Story Productions, registered with the Playwrights Guild of Canada, and most recently has performed with Canadian Stage, Roseneath Theatre, Globus Theatre, Nowadays Theatre, TYT, Next Stage 2020, has been working with the Fringe since 2015, and is thrilled to be a New Young Reviewer!