“If you are a teen, Selfie should top your May MUST-SEE list!”

The Quotable Sayak

The Quotable Sayak

The Quotable Sayak is a critic, contributor and coordinator of social media at Sesaya. Naturally arts-inclined, he is a drama major in a secondary arts program and music student at Sesaya.

Caroline Toal and Rachel Mutombo in Selfie; photo by Ali Sultani

Selfie is a new play written by Christine Quintana and directed by Stephen Colella making its English-language premiere at Young People’s Theatre (YPT). It is the second of  two shows for teen audiences of YPT’s current season. Selfie is based on the original French language version commissioned by Vancouver’s Théâtre la Seizième, and Christine Quintana received the Sydney Risk Prize for Outstanding Script by an Emerging Playwright for it.

The play details the events of the first party of the school year and what happens afterwards. This play is smart, well-written overall, and extremely well acted by Christopher Allen, Rachel Mutombo and Caroline Toal, who offers an especially stellar performance. It is a play that details a VERY important and relevant message about sexual consent. Throughout the duration of this show, we see many characters going through ups and downs, and struggling with their social-media presence, school life, and who they ACTUALLY are. Overall, this show does a good job of balancing these elements along with the heavy theme of consent.

I do not want to give away the plot of this show, as you really should see it for yourself. However, I will say that this is a play that is VITAL for teens and adults to see. It seems like the more we talk about and hear about sexual consent, the more things come out about people who have sexually assaulted others. The play’s message makes it clear once again that – no matter how complicated the situation seems – unless someone says yes…that answer is no. Only yes means yes…NOTHING ELSE means yes. And when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the answer is an automatic NO.

While the premise of the show is simple, the way that Selfie’s set is designed by Claire Hill and the way that the screens are placed around the stage are incredibly smart and well-thought out. The media videos, photos, and animations designed by Daniel Oulton and arranged throughout this tight 65-minute show conjure the world that it immerses you in. With just 3 actors, this show manages to move fast – in part because of the creative set which brings to life the larger, rapid-fire world of social media surrounding the 3  characters. You become glued to the stage from the minute it starts.

Caroline Toal, Rachel Mutombo and Christopher Allen in Selfie, YPT; photo by Ali Sultani

My only two issues with this show lie with some of the language in the script (despite the writing being REALLY great). The first is the swearing. Now, I understand the swearing makes these adult actors seem like teenagers, and makes this show seem very 2018. But to be completely honest…the swearing (as well as the use of slang like “lol” and “omg”) is excessive. I wonder if instead of swearing once every other minute, could there have been a more creative dialogue replacement?

My second issue has to do with the effect of the over-swearing. If the swearing and f-bombs are dropped every 3 seconds of the show, the swearing loses its impact. In my opinion, swearing should be used sparingly to spice up dialogue and make certain moments more intense. But by the time I was 1/3 of the way through this show, it felt a bit like I was listening to an Eminem song and becoming desensitized. I am not suggesting that all the swearing should be cut from the show, but what about decreasing it by half to make the moments when it is used hit with more impact? I feel this would be more a realistic reflection of the teen world and improve the viewers’ experience. At my high school, people swear…but not THIS much.

Overall though, this criticism did not hinder my enjoyment of this show. This play is still great and super-enjoyable. The message is SUPER relevant; the acting is PHENOMENAL; the dialogue for the most part is GREAT and the set and the situations recall my life at my high school. If you are a teen, Selfie should DEFINITELY top your May MUST-SEE list.

Caroline Toal, Rachel Mutombo and Christopher Allen in Selfie, YPT; photo by Ali Sultani

News You Can Use

What: Selfie – premiere (based on the original French language version) by Christine Quintana; Featuring Christopher Allen, Rachel Mutombo and Caroline Toal; Directed by Stephen Colella

Who: Audiences 14 years of age and older
*Content Advisory: Explicit Language, Mature Situations

When: On stage until May 11, 2018; Running Time: approximately 65 minutes (no intermission)
*ASL Shadow Interpreted Performances: Fri. May 4 at 10:30AM and Sun. May 6 at 2:30PM

Where: Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front Street East, Toronto, ON

Info and Tickets: youngpeoplestheatre.ca or 416.862.2222 x2

© 2018 Sayak S-G, Sesaya

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