Left to right: Soo Garay, Clinton Walker, and Elizabeth Saunders in A Singularity of Being. Photo by Justin DeGuzman.
To paraphrase a legendarily misquoted Oscar speech, the Fringe likes T. Berto, they really like him. A Singularity of Being marks the second time the playwright has won the festival’s Best New Play award (the first was bestowed upon Bash in 2000). The play follows the life of a scientist with a passing resemblance to Stephen Hawking and his relations with others over the course of his degenerative disease. While the script ventures into discussions on how far one should quest for the secrets of the universe without arousing the wrath of a higher being, it is the human relationships that stand out. The all-too-mortal connections between the characters create an emotional richness that draws the audience into the action onstage, from the scientist’s small physical triumphs to his wife’s ultimate heartbreak.
Clinton Walker’s performance as the scientist engages as his character evolves from awkward boy genius (who bears a passing resemblance to young Elvis Costello) to a virtually immobile figure. His movements in and out of each phase of the character’s illness are graceful and subtle. Able support is provided by Soo Garay as his dedicated wife who takes numerous emotional hits, John Blackwood as the old teacher who challenges him to push on amid questions about higher forces at work, Dave Tripp as a loyal friend, and Elizabeth Saunders as the mother whose early advice may have been right all along.
The next performance is today at 3 p.m. at the Tarragon Mainspace.
The Fringe runs until July 12 at various locations around the city. Check back for Torontoist’s daily Fringe coverage throughout the festival.