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Canoe is a Hidden Gem – Dramatic, Entertaining, Moving!

Matthew Roberts wrote and performs his latest solo show, directed by Struan Leslie, founding Head of Movement at the RSC, produced by Bread and Butter Productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018. This is a substantial and experienced team, which is reflected in the quality of the show and performance.

We meet David and Tom, a gay couple, who are parents of three children. Roberts has a strong presence and inhabits all of the characters in the play. Deftly switching back and forth in spirited conversations between Tom, a gay children’s author, and ex-military partner David, they have recently suffered a huge loss in their family.

When playing Tom, Roberts’ eyes are vibrant and he is direct yet emotional at the situation he is in. Tom’s character is also personable, professional and multi-dimensional and Roberts fleshes this character out in physical and emotional aspects and also with his love of literature and storytelling. Several times through the one-man play Roberts picks up a book and reads out loud.

The most memorable moment is from Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene Field and Roberts is in top form when he repeats the title and resources his own personality, voice and facial expression to say the phrase. At these moments Roberts develops a real rapport with the audience, it is simple yet magical and draws the audience in with his charm.

Next we meet partner, David, an American, more relaxed physically, who is dealing with the sad loss privately and is not as emotional or as literary as Tom.

Their two youngest children were born through surrogacy, and Andrew, the oldest, is adopted. The earth shattering news means this family will never be the same again.  We also watch first hand how two people experience pain and loss so differently, and this is fine if that helps get each of them through the days.

We see how books and stories build joyful and meaningful memories through reading to each other. Therefore, reading the stories again brings the memories vividly alive through the mind and imagination – and can never be taken away.

Roberts narrates in the first person to the audience as each of the three characters, he speaks in dialogue with the other characters, uses literary language and poetic quotations, rhyme and a few flashes of nonsense rhyme, all of which are effective.

Struan Leslie, as director and dramaturg has done a masterful job corralling the many evocative references from literature and Roberts well of ideas and dynamic energy into a finely crafted and performed show.

Important topics in this play range from being a gay parent, choosing to have children, pain and loss – and love.

A born storyteller with an individual idiosyncratic flair, Roberts is a compelling writer and performer. He really wants to tell us this story and his textured performance adds depth to his sincere, human and nuanced delivery and emotion.

Roberts has created a layered piece of new writing, which is well crafted, poetic and poignant. The build of the piece is gripping and palpable to the end as Roberts transforms from a warm sunny disposition to a piercing vulnerability and back. A Hidden Gem of a show!

Originally published in www.FringeReview.co.uk

List to two Interviews with Matthew Roberts talking with Jo Tomalin about Writing and Performing a One Person Show and Performing and Writing about Serious Subjects

More Information and Tickets to Upcoming Productions:

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances
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About the Author

Jo TomalinOriginally from England Jo Tomalin is currently based in San Francisco, where she reviews Theatre & Dance for www.ForAllEvents.com & www.FringeReview.com - she works in the performing arts as a freelance movement & voice specialist, director + actor. She is also Professor in the School of Theatre & Dance at San Francisco State University, teaching Movement for Actors, Voice for Actors, Storytelling, Business of Acting, Acting and directs MainStage plays. Jo's first play "Jessica" which she also directed was produced at the Fringe of Marin - a One Act New Play Festival. Jo Tomalin studied Classical Acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London; and holds a teacher's diploma (ATCL) in Voice and Acting from Trinity College of Dramatic Art, London. She studied Classical Ballet for 12 years; Graduated from London University's Laban Centre Teaching Credential program in Modern Dance, Art of Movement & Choreography; Completed the two year professional training course at the renowned acting school "Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq" Paris, France, where she also completed the Laboratoire du Mouvement (LEM) scenography and movement course. Jo also holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Technology from Boise State University and a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University, MN.View all posts by Jo Tomalin →