SummerWorks 2012: Derailed—The Amy Project

Tales from the underground: The AMY Project rides the rocket at SummerWorks

Directed by Megan Watson
Presented by The AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project

Although everyone on a busy subway train is headed in the same direction, they are isolated by their own thoughts. The narratives to emerge from these underground commuters are the focus of Derailed, now playing as part of this year’s SummerWorks Performance Festival. Derailed is presented by The AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project, an organization that offers young Toronto women opportunities through performance training, connections to artistic mentors, and support to grow their careers.

A very ambitious production, Derailed combines many stories into one show that explores various themes affecting young adults. One young single mother is searching desperately for an apartment, but she feels as though she is being discriminated against based on her Jane and Finch background, and her skin colour. A straight-A student with what appears to be a great life reveals a very difficult past in which her father abandoned the family. A gay man and his best girl friend encounter a homophobic woman on the train, and the friend must deal with the fact that not everyone agrees with how she feels.

The ensemble take turns playing different roles, such as boyfriends and parents, at different points in the production, which is not always easy to follow throughout. While the characters ride a very life-like stage recreation of the TTC, with red chairs and sound effects from the real subway, random dance sequences take place, fully choreographed but with no correlation to any of the characters, or the overall plot.

Redeeming moments of Derailed include an emotional speech by the single mother, explaining how her son has a rare disease, as well as when the subway train breaks down with many different, contrasting personalities on board. Overall, however, the production is difficult to connect with, as there are many stories being told at once, and not enough time spent on each one. However, the cast performs with heart, and it is clear that the participants spent a great deal of time formulating the individual stories, even though they could have been told more thoroughly.

Derailed is playing until August 19 at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

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