Emile’s Dream proved to be a perfect opening to the 2011 SuperNova Festival. It’s just the kind of play this festival does so well: a show that has a small cast, simple set and minimal props yet that still manages to make a big theatrical impact. Newfoundland playwright Robert Chafe has put the words and story of renowned fiddler Emile Benoit into the mouths of three talented musician/actors, who represent both themselves as performers and Benoit himself. The story is told from Benoit’s musical beginnings as a child sawing away on a dummy fiddle to his rise to celebrity and his eventual death. Filled with toe-tapping fiddle music, tightly choreographed shifts in dialogue and movement, and gentle, charming humour, Emile’s Dream is both entertaining and informative.
The second show of the night is also based on a true story. My Titanic, co-written by and starring local actor Jennifer Overton, tells of her experience on the set of James Cameron’s titanic Titanic where she was one of the many cast and crew who fell ill after eating drug-laced chowder. Overton is a vivacious and likeable performer, and the play is filled with interesting and creatively-staged vignettes, but in some ways, it felt like a guilty pleasure, as it seems to be attempting to draw parallels between a true tragedy (the sinking of the Titanic) and a mere annoyance (a brief, if disturbing illness). The parallels drawn between the excesses of the ship Titanic and the movie Titanic are definitely more palatable. The tricky subject matter may not be enough to sink this play, but it definitely made for a choppy voyage for this reviewer.
SuperNova runs May 18-29 at the Neptune Studio. For a complete list of show times and prices visit: http://www.easternfronttheatre.com/index.php/supernova-theatre-festival/