Unsuspicious at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Unsuspicious at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Photo credit: Maria Colonescu

Unsuspicious at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Photo credit: Maria Colonescu

Unsuspicious by Maria Colonescu
August 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20 at Venue #4: Academy at King Edward
More information: saintmaggieproductions.com

An interview with Maria Colonescu.

Describe your show in five words. 

An engaging journey. Intense. Tasty.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Unsuspicious is a multi-generational voyage into the past of one family. Three women – Grandmother, Mother, and Daughter, invite the audience to witness the details of their unsavory history. The stories they tell are not always for the faint of heart (or stomach), but at the same time they show the unbreakable bonds of family loyalty, tradition, and the inextricable link a daughter has to her mother. The fiercely human relationships in this play are beautiful, heartbreaking and inexplicable – just like the relationships everyone around us struggles to maintain on a daily basis.

Unsuspicious centres around mother-daughter relationships. Why was this something you were interested in exploring?

Because it is a strange thing. Every woman I’ve ever met has a relationship with her mother that is, in some way, complicated. A murky mix of competition, a desire to live a life that is different, a need for independence counterbalanced by fear of losing the other. I can’t really explain it, which is why I wanted to explore it.

Unsuspicious is set during afternoon tea. What made this the perfect setting for the show?

I remember the first time I sat down and had a ‘grown-up’ drink with my mother. In my case it was coffee, and I had it with my mom and some of her friends. She used to have friends over for coffee almost every day, and when I was finally old enough to be invited to join these women, I remember feeling this overwhelming happiness that I was being treated as an equal rather than a child – like I was invited to be part of a secret club. I remember how the need to accept my elders’ opinions unquestioningly slowly started to fade away, and I felt empowered to say what was on my mind and disagree with them if I felt like it. It was a rite of passage. It’s something there’s no turning back from, that moment when you sit down with a parent and have a completely honest conversation, and doing it over a cup of something just feels comfortable and safe.

You workshopped Unsuspicious at the 2016 StageStruck! Festival. How has the show grown and evolved since that workshop performance?

The beauty of an event like StageStruck! Is that it gives artists an opportunity to try new things in a safe environment and get lots of feedback – both from industry professionals and general audiences. We took this feedback and made a few cuts here and there to the script, wherever it felt a little long, or unclear, and the staging is a little different now. However, the most important changes were made to the characters themselves. We used the time between then and now to really delve deeper into the psychology of these women and our experiments took us into quite unexpected directions.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Unsuspicious won the Outstanding New Work award at the StageStruck! Festival and countless people have remarked upon the fluidity and complexity of the script. Audiences can be assured that we will deliver a solid show. And they might get a little surprise at the beginning of the performance as well…

For those night-owls out there, we are selling tickets half-price for our first show – Thursday, August 11, at midnight. What better time to come hear dark secrets being revealed?

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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