2012 Toronto Fringe Festival: Life In The Raw

Hope and heartache collide in this harrowing family drama

Written by Barbara Larose and Rick Jones
Directed by Barbara Larose
Presented by Thick and Thin Theatre Productions

Rielle Braid, Kaitlin Lane and Brianne Tucker in Life In The Raw. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

It may be a humid summer evening, but the audience shivers along with three sisters huddled around a stove on stage. Set in Montreal, during the grey days of the Great Depression, Life in the Raw follows the lives of one family as they struggle both with their own individual dreams and the heartbreaking reality they must face. On stage at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, the production was created from memories and stories passed down to Montreal native Barbara Larose from older relatives who had experienced the Great Depression firsthand.

From the very first scene, it is clear that this is a tightly-knit family who care for one another a great deal. Kathleen (Denise Norman) is the strong matriarch of the family. Her daughters, Hope (Brianne Tucker), Faith (Rielle Braid) and the youngest, Nellie (Kaitlin Lane) are three vastly different personalities, but all look out for and support one another. Their father, William (Rick Jones) is a complex character whose extramarital affairs are alluded to by his daughters throughout the production.

The audience is able to connect with the various characters early in the story through the very effective use of individual songs performed with passion and emotion. Little Nellie reveals that she wants to work for the Eaton’s Catalogue when she grows up, Faith wants to be an MGM movie star, and Hope wants to help others as part of the Salvation Army. Kathleen has had to take in laundry for extra money, happy to do so for her family, but her husband William describes the shame this has brought upon him as a man.

A devastating twist is revealed mid-way through Life in the Raw that shakes the family, and the audience, to its core. Because of this shock, the family must become closer than ever before, and the audience is on the edge of their seats hoping they will all pull through. Rounded out by beautifully performed songs, Life in the Raw tells a story rich in emotion and heartbreak. Not a dry eye could be found at the end of the performance, but hearts were warmed by the hopeful, inspired story.

Show Dates: 
Sun, 2012-07-15
Our rating:


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