Floral Theatre’s Becoming is the seed of a good show. Presenting the experience of one woman as she floats through purgatory, Becoming has good bones although at only 20 minutes in length the show isn’t long enough to fully explore its ideas.
As the audience enters Arts Court Theatre they are greeted by a projection explaining the Islamic version of the Day of Judgement, and once the show starts the performer attempts to get all the way through an Arabic prayer although there’s something keeping her from making it all the way through. There hasn’t been a lot of Islam-related content on Ottawa stages (I don’t think I can name any specific shows), and so Becoming introduces possibly unfamiliar audiences to an aspect of Islam that correlates easily to an equivalent in the Christian tradition. I don’t suppose that writer Erum Khan had this particular angle in mind, but all the same it’s heartening to see another step toward a more diverse theatre scene at Fringe and the rest of Ottawa.
The show itself draws a parallel between multimedia performance art and the concept of purgatory – fragmented experiences that may or may not make any sense to the perceiver. This visual/spatial metaphor leads to some lovely images, such as a video projection of waves crashing on a beach while the performer herself rocks back and forth, as if affected by something that isn’t really there. The fragmentary nature of Becoming is so pronounced in fact that it almost goes a little too far – we don’t find out much about the woman’s life or death, nor when she’ll be released from purgatory. This might be fixed by lengthening the text to at least 45 minutes rather than 20, and adding a few more story elements – the non-linear nature of the script works wonderfully, but just a few more details about the character’s life might help theatre audiences to connect more deeply with the content.
Becoming might only be a seed at the moment, but I predict it’ll grow into something much more satisfying.
A Floral Theatre production
Written by Erum Khan
Running Time: 20 minutes
At Arts Court Theatre (Venue 1)