By Grace Phan
Coming into Theatre Passe Muraille’s intimate backspace, the ambiance is already gently eerie. The ambient sounds underscore the conversations around you and, as soon as those lights go down, you’re taken on an intense ride from start to finish.
Interweaving descriptive narration and dialogue keep you on the edge of your seat, present, and engaged. The episodic storytelling leaves little to no time for you to breathe. Next thing you know, you’re following a group of young queer women of colour, residing in Hamilton, trying to piece together a gruesome time of their high school days. What starts as a reunion spirals into a seemingly never-ending nightmare.
I love how most, if not all, parties involved in the creation of Swan are practitioners of colour. It’s a story that complicates the narrative of why someone’s lunch is different from the rest of their classmates, by adding more dimensions of the characters’ sense of being outsiders even by their own standards.
Another thing that stood out to me was the choice of using descriptive theatre. It gives me agency to add and create the story alongside the actors, which allows me to connect with the story in a very different way (can you tell that I’m a huge Phan of that?).
Swan by Aaron Jan is an incredibly charged piece of theatre that engages your senses, imagination, and intellect. With unreserved storytelling through Swan’s actors, compelling writing and directing by Jan, and meticulous scenic, lighting, and sound designs by the production and creative team, Swan is a monster of a project: the directorial choices are bold and strong, the actors well cast, flawless, and focused, the set is beautiful and impactful, the lighting and sound are precise and well thought out.
Overall, Swan is a strong and satisfying production. I would recommend this production to those who are interested in dark mystery and enjoy deconstructing productions as there are many elements to discuss. Better yet, support great Canadian artists of colour who dare to tell stories in refreshing ways.
The show is two hours with an intermission.
10% of the box office proceeds from this production will be donated to DAREarts, a Canadian children’s charity that uses educational experiences in the arts to empower children and youth facing life challenges.
$12 Previews (Nov 2 – 3)
$12 Matinees / $15 Evenings (Nov 4 – 6)
$15 Matinees / $20 Evenings (Nov 8 – 13)
Fri Nov 4 at 7:30pm (Opening)
Sat Nov 5 at 2:00pm
Sat Nov 5 at 7:30pm
Sun Nov 6 at 2:00pm
Tues Nov 8 at 7:30pm
Wed Nov 9 at 7:30pm
Thurs Nov 10 at 7:30pm
Fri Nov 11 at 7:30pm
Sat Nov 12 at 2:00pm
Sat Nov 12 at 7:30pm
Sun Nov 13 at 2:00pm
Grace Phan-Nguyen is a student at the University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus) specializing in Arts Management and majoring in Theatre and Performance Studies. She is known as a bubbling theatre artist, stage manager, and scholar. Her most recent credits include: Stage manager for Absolutely!(Perhaps!) (Leigha Lee Browne Theatre), Bodies Warm (Toronto Fringe 2016), #TheDonnellysProject (Tarragon, Scarborough Arts), assistant producer for Oraltorio (The Riser Project), actor for The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Leigha Lee Browne Theatre), and assistant director for Rent (Mainstage Theatre Company) and Provenance (Alumnae Theatre).