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Fringe Review: whY!

By Colin Noden on June 18, 2022

whY!
Created by Collective X
Produced by Everything Matters Productions (Ottawa)
60m | G | Musical / Family Comedy

Relax folks, whY! is on “Tree Time”. Settle back and enjoy a simple message told in a beautiful way. Imagine yourself being invited to a family reunion on the farm.

In this case it would probably be Ottawa’s Experimental Farm. Somebody has wheeled over a hay wagon as an impromptu stage, and we have pulled up the lawn chairs. Instead of old Uncle Hank who keeps slipping his “medicine” into the lemonade, and starts yelling “Get up here and sing that Chainsaw song Darren,” you have Aunty who has found her old school bell, and will ring it until you are either deaf, or on stage performing.

whY! takes a broad look at the history  of development in our country and asks the question “Why?” from the Trees’ perspective. For example, people arrived from Europe and started cutting down trees. “Why?” It sounds like a silly question until we note our default European, settler perspective. The people who were already here were not hacking down swathes of forest, and they were a lot healthier than the settlers who spent all their time building houses and forts and then proceeded to die in them from malnourishment. Why kill trees and send them to some rich guy, just to get supplies to live in a way that wasn’t in keeping with the environment?

whY! allows us to explore the question through amazing original music performances, poetry performance, skits, and dancing puppets being bell-chased by Aunty (I’m not sure that part was in the script).

The cast of whY? offers answers from the trees’ perspective, and from the perspective of those who have been positively affected by interaction with the trees. Oops, did your tree-hugger alert just go off? Put it on pause for a second and think about what lives in natural spaces.

Opening night had the usual nervous glitches; this is obviously a true community performance. The only technical advice I would give is that there should be more live mics used for the speakers. The theatre space has good acoustics, but it needs a trained voice to take advantage of it.

Leaving the show, I could see how many questions start rolling in once you start ask whY?


whY! by Collective X is playing at LabO, (60 Waller Street, Ottawa) until June 26, 2022. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at https://apt613.ca/category/festival/fringe/.