Seeing Everything: Ryerson Theatre School takes it all off

Jemima Sutherland smiled.

“I’ll always try to impress you” she said, addressing the audience in the role of Priya Unerhill during last night’s performance of “The Girl Who Saw Everything.”

And impress she did.

“The Girl Who Saw Everything,” the highly layered and metafictional play that inspired Sean Dixon’s acclaimed novel, “The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal,” interrogates the relationship between myth and reality in a post-modern adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Meet the members of Montreal’s infamous yet underground Lacuna Cabal book club: five women seeking new stories and new experiences allow the quirky Runner Coghill (Jasmine Chen) to take the reins from the totalitarian leader Missy Bean (Nina Pikula), leading the group through a twisted and animated journey of lust, love and loss, punctuated by all the hallmarks of the twenty-first century: sex, music, and more sex.

The talented and promising cast, comprised of eleven fourth-year undergraduates in Ryerson’s theatre program, and guided by director Ruth Madoc-Jones, delivered a committed and heart-felt performance, cumulating in Katerina Georgieva’s closing soliloquy. Theatre students will always aim to impress : untainted by the comfort of fame, they perform with a yearning that too many actors lose once touched by success.

Later that evening, Chen would strip down to her bra and underwear as the character Runner Coghill to enact her passage from life to death, changing my perception of actors. I’ve always thought actors wear masks: the performer steps into a character, disguises her true self and puppeteers this role before her audience. But last night, as Chen stood before me, half naked and quivering, front-stage and center, she could not hide. I realized in that moment that actors foreground those things inside us that make us human, that make us vulnerable; they reach inside themselves and pull out something real,  something authentic—something perhaps hidden beneath the vein mask of everyday life.

Remaining performances: October 23, 27, 29 & November 2, 4, 6, 10, 12 @ 8PM. Abrams Studio Theatre, 46 Gerrard Street East. For more information, visit http://www.ryerson.ca/theatreschool/performances/2010-11%20Mainstage/Girls/

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