The undercurrents festival wrapped up their first weekend on Sunday with an afternoon performance of Awkward Hug, a one man play that tells the story of the solo performer, Corey Thibert’s, young life. Upon his parents being given five months notice to move out of the townhouse in which he has lived since he was three, you learn about his life growing up in social housing, his experience as a child with two parents who have disabilities, and how growing up in a family that doesn’t talk a whole lot has influenced who and how he is as a young adult—perhaps to his detriment.
Thibert finds himself with only one close friend, Tony, with whom he has formed a two-piece band which has never performed a show. He has difficulty asserting himself in his relationship and ends up the owner of a mouse that she insists they get, but never visits, and puts a down payment on a dog they, thankfully, never acquire. Even when he finds her out at a bar with another man, who she assures him is her best friend (he has never heard of), and she tells him that she will be staying the night at his place, he is unable to address the obvious issue he has with her.
Perhaps the most striking reality that comes from his family’s lack of communication is the limited knowledge Cory and his older brother Gary have about their parents. The story of how their parents met has never been expanded upon from the single word response given by his father and neither of them have thought to ask any further. Despite both parents having a disability, neither Cory nor Gary know what that disability is, as it simply isn’t talked about. As the performance goes on, however, Cory tells the heartfelt story of learning how his parents met and about their disabilities and the secret hardships they have faced as a result.
Awkward Hug is heartfelt, entertaining, and a piece of impressive storytelling.
Despite no set on stage, Thibert is able to take the audience to a host of different places through his storytelling. He also makes you feel a wide range of emotions, as you are laughing one moment and having your heart strings pulled the very next.
One point of distraction from the narrative, however, was the transitions between scenes, which could be made less so if Thibert could not be seen drinking from a water bottle as the lights dimmed on stage.
Despite this, Awkward Hug is heartfelt, entertaining, and a piece of impressive storytelling; and if it is any indication of the caliber of performance one can expect from the Undercurrents Festival, we can surely anticipate a great final weekend.
The undercurrents festival continues until February 15 at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave). Tickets cost $5–75 online and at the box office.