–By Nita Balani
There is no better way to welcome fall than spending an evening at the theatre. Becoming Banksy is running at the Redwood Theatre until October 14, 2018. This theatre is an ideal location for this avant garde fringe theatre script about an English tourist who visits Toronto and is mistakenly identified as none other than the famous British grafitti artist, Banksy.
The timing could not be better as Toronto just hosted one of the largest art exhibits of Banksy the past three months. The location is more than perfect as the Redwood Theatre (originally a vaudeville theatre) is one of the city’s oldest independent theatres built in 1914. It supports a diverse range of innovators in the creative fields including circus, theatre, art, and film.
Becoming Banksy is a delightful tale of Will Banks (Anurag Choudhury), an unemployed artist from London who is going through an emotional separation . His best friend and fellow street art artist Mark ( Daniel Pagett), suggests he needs to get away from the painful and highly emotionally charged atmosphere at home by taking a well-deserved break to visit Toronto. The plot then takes a comical twist as Will is caught up in a case of mistaken identity by the Toronto hotel receptionist, Caitlyn (Caitlin Driscoll), who thinks he is definitely the graffiti artist Banksy. When Mark finds out, he suggests they take advantage of this folly to sell a number of their paintings for a profit.
The story goes on through hilarious double entendres and crazy eccentric characters to the great big moment– there is an unravelling of truth, human emotions and character. Although the play is minimalistic in terms of props and costumes, it really demonstrates how you can convey a larger-than-life character with superb acting skills and a stage. You do not need fancy over-the-top props and costumes and high tech lighting to create mood, character and high class entertainment.
The play is directed by Benjamin Blais who founded The Storefront Theatre, and Red One Theatre Collective and has won numerous awards. Anurag Chaudhary makes a fantastic debut as “Banksy” on the Toronto stage and the city looks forward to seeing more of him on the art scene. Caitlin Driscoll’s amazing acting ability displayed in her triple roles as Mary(Will’s wife), Caitlin (the hotel receptionist) as well as a TV channel anchor, is not to be missed. She can change her looks and voice like a chameleon changes its colours! Of course we must give a worthy mention to Daniel Pagett for his multiple characters as Mark (Will’s best friend), Tom (the TV station owner with a Groucho Marx makeover) and several other comic relief roles.
It was certainly an entertaining evening in a great location. The historic Redwood Theatre (in Toronto’s lower East side in Gerard Street) with its brick walls, wooden floors and high ceilings was the perfect setting for staging a Banksy story complete with an artsy cafe attached ! We wish the group all the best in its future performan