SummerWorks Play Review: Elora Gorge, August 6

Toronto – On a hot, humid Saturday evening, inside the sweltering atmosphere of the Theatre Centre, Elora Gorge was a mystery show with a good enough hook to really reel me in, despite how much energy I had to expend to fan myself with the program. It got off to a good start, with nice usage of some hanging sheets as projection screens and some interesting lighting.

Unfortunately, it’s a mystery show with no payoff at the end, and as a result it’s a rather frustrating play.

In Elora Gorge, a man is discovered dead by drowning in the middle of a forest, nowhere near any source of water. It’s a mystery worthy of someone like Sherlock Holmes, or at least TV’s Adrian Monk, and it falls to the town of Elora’s small RCMP detachment to investigate. The same day this body is discovered, a young woman moves back into her mom’s house in Elora after some wild and troubled years on the road and begins having nightmares about the disappearance of her brother, which took place many years before. Her old flame is one of the officers on the case, and as they rekindle their relationship, her nightmares and visions get worse, and she starts to wonder if there’s a connection between this unidentified corpse and her long-lost sibling. At the same time, the people of Elora start acting very oddly and become obsessed with the dead stranger, beginning with the woman who found the body and the coroner who examines it. This oddness grows to the point that the town decides to have a festival in his honour, and to display the corpse for all to see.

What’s affecting the townspeople? Who was this dead stranger in the woods? How did he possibly drown miles from the water? Alas, none of this is actually explained. Elora Gorge goes to great lengths to build the suspense over these questions, then never bothers to actually answer them. It’s suspenseful, it’s got good design and some interesting characters, but to end the show without providing answers to the central mystery is just baffling. I suppose if you were more of a David Lynch and/or Twin Peaks person than I am you might enjoy this very much, but even though it’s got some slick design and some fine acting, the ending left me cold, despite the heat.

Elora Gorge runs through Sunday August 14th as part of SummerWorks. Check the website for schedule and tickets.

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Posted on by Brian in Reviews, Summerworks, Theatre

2 Responses to SummerWorks Play Review: Elora Gorge, August 6

  1. Liz

    I saw this show at the SummerWorks Festival and I have to agree that there were some great moments but overall, I expected a bit more from the award-winning team of Stanton, Schwellnus and Black. I am not a big fan of open-ended stories and that was perhaps the main reason why I was slightly disappointment.

  2. Brian

    I’m sometimes ok with open-ended stories, but maybe not quite as wide open as the ending to this one was. Thanks for the comment.

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