'Something from Nothing Beyond Words' created by Andy Massingham and the Summer 2022 Company of Theatre on the Ridge
Scugog Shores Museum, Port Perry
Courtesy of Theatre on the Ridge Port Perry
A striking new production opened this week at Theatre on the Ridge’s new outdoor space at the Scugog Shores Museum. ‘Something from Nothing Beyond Words’ is a carousel of music, dance, vignettes and comedy loosely based on the theme of the history of Scugog Island. Artistic director Carey Nicholson boldly leads the theatre out of the pandemic with long-time dramaturge Andy Massingham pulling together a youthful, energetic cast with an improvisational process where both actors and said leadership consolidate as creators.
A little pestering rain was no match for this celebratory cast and their dynamic skills. This performance was announced as “modified” due to wet grass which restricted some of the routines, but one could see that the restricted items would simply have augmented an already solid performance. This might be called a reverse theatre in the round in that the audience was in the “round” while the players worked encircling the wide circumference. Some audience jostling and seat adjustments were necessary, but it’s always good to stretch mid-performance. The natural setting was ideal with one side a garden and fields, another a 19th-century house and another with full barn and outbuildings.
A focus was the ever-present magnificent blue heron personified with some brilliant dance and movement. It was as if the bird were narrating the legacy of Scugog. Working quickly through centuries, the audience beheld geography and geology, indigenous peoples and colonization, farming and the ills of weekend cottaging. It seems a flurry, but the solid pace and unique comedy kept the audience engaged in the flow.
Wearing sports jackets and an eclectic array of hats (the tricorn was my favourite,) the actors gained an aura of compelling presenters. A lovely balletic scene in the distance offered a dreamy far away sense. A beautiful acapella duet followed. There was a range of comedy styles from Moe and Curly to Monty Python and Buster Keaton (I suspect some of this cast may have to google my medieval references – but it would be fun!) Some comic highlights include a framed picture carried along with the picture stopping but the frame innocently continuing along. The frame again was used as a frantic photographer twisted the company into pretzels until he got the right shot. More great physical humour (I think Mr. Massingham’s forte) produced a riotous scene of mating birds.
The comedy, at times, melted into the vagaries of human interaction. Touching scenes of relationships grew with joy or ended obliquely. The ever-present concerns about indigenous peoples and colonization were skillfully woven into the raucous agenda. Human interaction, good and bad, with the Scugog environment, offered a balanced touch.
As a youngster, I recall my first experience waterskiing on Lake Scugog. Upon a wipeout, I sputtered to the surface to find my ski. It was easy to locate as I observed it sticking straight up out of a mud flat. So I understand one character’s fear of the lake that “the bottom might soon meet the top.” What a joy to see this sparkling cast reviewing this beloved Scugog area with all its warts and wonders.
‘Something from Nothing Beyond Words’ by Andy Massingham and company.
Performers / Creators – Manon Ens-Lapointe, Karly Friesen, Reid Martin, Landon Nesbitt, Henry Oswald Peirson, Daniella Reid, Adriano Reis, Nathan Simpson, Michael Williamson
Director – Andy Massingham
Stage Manager- Sarah Jewell
Production runs through July 17,2022.
Tickets at boxoffice@theatre3X60.ca