Spinning You Home, written by Sally Stubbs, is performed as a stage reading for the Fringe festival. I thought Sarah Roa playing granddaughter Sarah and Simon Webb playing Grampa were both individually well-suited to their roles. However, I did not feel like their performances complemented each other very well.
There were some moments in this piece when I felt the foley – which was excellent, not just excellent by comparison – was more engaging than the conversation between the two characters. I felt uneasy for most of this show about the level of conflict and contention between these two, and I just couldn’t fully understand their motivations for continuing to be around each other.
I’m not sure if I felt this way because of the stage reading format, or the unfiltered script, or due to a general struggle to grasp the tone of the performance. I feel like this show had all the right ingredients for a compelling adventure tale – travel, history, storytelling (complete with believable sound effects), spooky ghostly elements, and difficult family members – but somehow did not come together in a way that I found significant or relatable.
Spinning You Home by Spinners Collective is playing at Carousel Theatre 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Sonja Cvoric
Click "read more" for the full video transcript.
Hi Theatre Addicts! My name's Sonja, and I'll be reviewing Spinning You Home by Spinner's Collective playing at Carousel Theatre, as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Spinning You Home is by the same creative team that brought us the 2016 Pick of the Fringe and Bella Sang with Us which explored a chapter of kind of overlooked Vancouver history. Spinning You Home sounds like it's gonna be partly about the history of the Cariboo Gold Rush in BC. I think that took place in the 1860s. Can you tell I've done a little bit of research? I don't know my BC geography all that well and my BC history is even worse, so I'm hoping this play will teach me something about BC history.
The Fringe programme suggests that it's a really good storytelling adventure and the framing is that Sarah's grandpa is dead but still tells really amazing stories. It sounds like it's a two-person performance and the two characters will be playing, I guess Sarah and her grandpa ghost perhaps? And some characters out of the Cariboo Gold Rush period. So I'm really curious to see how they blend past and present or whether it is the past and the present. Maybe it's the gold rush and another period in the past ... And just see how it all comes together. I have high expectations because they were the Pick of the Fringe winners in 2016 so I'm sure the creative team has put together another good show and I'm excited to find out!
Spinning You Home took place in 1951 and it was the story of the storytelling relationship between a grandpa and his granddaughter, Sarah. The set was a little different than I was expecting. The set up of the show was actually more of a stage reading than a full-on play which was unexpected but did work for the performance.
Simon Webb played Grandpa and he was seated for most of the show just kind of reading from the script. Sarah Roa on the other hand played Sarah and she did a lot of moving around the stage. Lots of sitting, standing. Hers was a very energetic character which worked very well for their roles. She was playing a teen girl that's about, I think, 14 and Webb was playing a 91 year old man, so it made sense. It really fueled the type of character they were playing, their positioning on the stage. What I was surprised about was in the corner of the stage there was a musician/foley artist/ ... He read the bits of the play directions so it kind of felt like a bit of narration going on in the background, just to kind of make it feel like the action in the story made sense even though the actors on stage weren't moving around very much.
And the foley was really, really, really interesting, so the sound effects were done live for the show. He had a cabinet behind him that worked to open and close doors. He performed knocking on his guitar as knocks on the door. I can't remember what all the little details were, but one that really stood out ... and it really made the set come alive. There wasn't much of a physical set going on behind these characters, but the set really came alive through the sound. He put together when those sounds kind of build on each other, so he recorded one sound and that kept playing on a loop and then recorded a new sound. He did some weird combination of sounds that worked really well and made a really believable storm. And there was another section where I think he was crinkling bubble wrap and popping bubble wrap and that was supposed to be the sound of a fire. It was so believable. It was great. Really, really pulled me in and made sense.
So the play takes place in 1951, mostly on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island. Sarah and her family live in Victoria. Grandpa lives on Salt Spring Island. Storytelling becomes a way for them to reconnect. Grandpa mostly likes to be along. There was one very useful prop in the play which was his rum flask. It makes a recurring appearance. Sarah wants to connect with her grandpa and she manages to find a way to do that by spinning yarns with him, so they tell a story ... or grandpa starts telling a story and then Sarah becomes part of that storytelling and interjects her own voice in the story, talking about Sophia Graves, a woman that was part of the Cariboo Gold Rush in the 1860s. Yeah. And so that brought Sarah and grandpa together.
I don't feel like I got to know Sophia's character very well, even though Sarah Roa did kind of personify her in a couple of moments, but I don't really feel like that's the point of the show. I definitely learned a fair bit about BC geography and what travel was like in the 1860s. I also learned some of the historic facts surrounding the Cariboo Gold Rush and surrounding Sophia Graves' lives but I don't really feel like I got to know her as a person and that's okay, because I don't think the play was about that. The play was about getting to know Sarah and getting to know grandpa and kind of what their relationship to each other was like.
Theatre Addicts, I'm Sonja, reviewing Spinning You Home by Spinner's Collective, playing at Carousel Theatre as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this and other performances at the Fringe, so please leave them in the comments below and remember to follow our Theatre Addicts YouTube channel for more interviews and reviews as they come in.
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