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Fringe Review: Grade 8

By Jessica Ruano on June 17, 2016

By Jessica Ruano

60 minutes | Spoken Word, Drama |PG

Oh, Dwayne Morgan, you heartwarmer. For years I’ve known you as the guy who almost single-handedly made the Canadian spoken word scene flourish, most notably with your slam-tastic When Brothers Speak / When Sisters Speak showcases. But now I’m acquainted with you under a different guise: an old softie who adores his child-daughter with all his big, beating heart.

This semi-autobiographical poetry-storytelling solo, written by Morgan when his little girl was born, premiered in 2006 and imagines a single father’s perspective on his daughter’s upbringing in an often sexist, racist, and body-focused world. Despite the fact that Morgan psychoanalyses the heck out of why young women have low self-esteem (daddy issues, obviously), it is incredibly refreshing to hear an adult man’s outlook on the importance of female empowerment and healthy relationships based in love. I hope this show tours high schools, because this is one play that impressionable young people need to see.

In terms of the performance itself, I do think Morgan could use a director (the opening is a tad awkward and the blocking occasionally stilted), but his overall delivery is bang-on: he segues seamlessly between spoken word and storytelling, sharing with us the intimate details of buying his daughter her first training bra, artfully describing the experience of being present at her birth, and joyfully recounting the episodes when he calls his daughter “into his office” for important “birds and the bees” conversations. It’s all great fun and very charming.

Do yourself a favour and go see this remarkable wordsmith at work. And pick up a copy of his adorable children’s book for Father’s Day while you’re at it!

Grade 8, ODD Box, 2 Daly, Elevator A

Tickets $12