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'The Fixing Girl' by Kevin Dyer

Now onstage at Toronto's Young People's Theatre

Credit: Dahlia Katz. Pictured: Eponine Lee as Meghan and Eric Peterson as Grandad.

Dave Rabjohn

'Recovery from loss is magic in this production'

Very short history lesson: Young People's Theatre has been dedicated to bringing theatre into the lives of children since 1966 creating thousands of life long theatre lovers. Golden.

This week presents the world premiere of UK playwright’s ‘The Fixing Girl’ – a moving story of a young girl wrestling with loss and change. The centrepiece of the production is the “space” – a backyard shed once the domain of Meghan’s beloved Grandad. Anna Treusch’s set design is an extraordinary highlight – an eclectic variety of cupboards and drawers, old hand tools and, of course, an actual skeleton in the closet.

This is Meghan’s environment where fixing things is paramount. Grandad has always resisted the ‘throw away’ world and championed reclamation. Meghan and her Mum’s world has been tragically turned with the loss of Grandad and they both react in different ways. Mum has turned inward and quiet – Meghan rebels by defiantly rushing into the shed and locking herself in with her many memories of Grandad.

Meghan takes up Grandad’s cause as she repairs something as innocuous as an old lava lamp. Grandad appears with a brilliant entrance as he climbs out of an old trunk. Played with vigour by the irrepressible Eric Peterson, Grandad shares the joys and hardships of their lives.

Peterson’s Grandad is sweet and calm – always full of life and bad “dad” jokes. What did the policeman say to the belly button? You’re under a vest. Sorry! Highlights also include a brilliant jig that energizes the cast and audience. Another fine moment is a video appearance as a saucy pirate complete with shoulder parrot.
Meghan is played by Eponine Lee – energy and wonder abound. She does a fine job of running the course of fear, anger, curiosity and eventual reconciliation.

Zoe Doyle, as Mum, begins the play with quiet sadness and fear for her distressed daughter. As she pulls herself together, her relationship with Meghan is reaffirmed certainly with the help of Grandad’s memory – he is always “fixing” things.

Director Stephen Colella does a fine job of spinning this story and integrating both high and low tech – video designer Joshua Hind cleverly arranges on stage cameras to highlight Meghan’s repair work. The “pirate” video is displayed via a 70’s style 20 inch TV reminding us that Grandad reclaims everything.

Some sound issues made for difficult hearing at the beginning of the play – adjustments were probably made through the course of the performance.

As mentioned, the heart of this play is the warm and distinctive set. It literally exudes the love of a grandfather and all of his eccentricities. As a side note the audience is made to understand that every component used to make up the set is recovered materials – Grandad’s passion for sustainability is visually right in front of us.

Recovery from loss is magic for mother and daughter.

‘The Fixing Girl’ by Kevin Dyer
Performers: Zoe Doyle, Eponine Lee, Eric Peterson
Director: Stephen Colella
Set and costume design: Anna Treusch
Video designer: Joshua Hind

Performances run through May 2, 2024.
Suggested ages for audience: 8 – 13.

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