Thursday, May 03, 2018

Taking a Deeper Look - Selfie - Play Review

Selfie - Young People's Theatre - Studio - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Christine Quintana, Directed by Stephen Colella
Runs until May 11th 2018


Selfie is a self assured new play by Christine Quintana, apparently a rare success story of an unsolicited script that made it through all the levels to be fully staged at YPT. With #MeToo discussions being brought to light, the issues of he said/she said stories is presented here in such a grey zone, where intentions are good, and social media complicates things even further, that Quintana's play becomes ever more timely.

Sadly, the issues of consent, especially under the blurred haze of drunken alcohol, has always been an issue, but there is finally more public discussions and admittance to the occurrences. Quintana future complicates things by carefully laying out the relationships between 3 teenagers who all mean well, but whose hormone driven, socially awkward, naive confusion, splits off resulting in different people reacting to the situation very differently.


Selfie follows Lily, her football star brother Chris, and Lily's best friend Emma. Lily is addicted to her Instagram, and each of the three presents themselves publicly far differently than how they are in real life. When Lily gets whiff that Emma has had a long-time crush on her brother, she tries to play matchmaker, setting off a series of events that culminates at a house party Lily and Chris throw. Quintana carefully sets us up, perhaps a bit too delicately, but we know exactly how each person feels. Until we don't, when Emma wakes us after the party confused. What should have played out like a romantic comedy begins to take a turn when Emma questions her own reaction, despite Chris having had the best intentions. It's an extremely delicate issue and deftly handled by Quintana, leaving us in the grey zone with only hints that pushes us to one side or another. It's less about taking sides, than it is about listening to Emma's story, but as in real life, the frustration of what to do next is palpable.

The cast, with Christopher Allen getting the unenviable job as Chris, Caroline Toal as Lily, and Rachel Mutombo as Emma, are uniformly excellent. A creative team of scenographer Claire-Allison Hill, projection designer Daniel Oulton, lighting designer Oz Weaver let the cast play out in a beautifully simple space, with a great way to represent social media in a theatrical setting. There are moments the pacing and the set up is held back to prevent us from getting to the moment that turn things around, but Allen, Toal and Mutombo are a pleasure to spend time with.

Photos by Ali Sultani
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