Last Friday I took Mark along with me to check out Two-Headed/Half-Hearted (Northern Light Theatre) at the Studio Theatre at Fringe Theatre Adventures. I was so glad I did. I have to be choosy about what I take the big guy to because he does not have my appreciation for brave failed attempts. He always wants the show to be 'very, very, good' and this one was certainly that. I would venture to say it felt perfect.
Rebecca Sadowski and Kaeley Jade Wiebe in Two-Headed/ Half-Hearted, Northern Light Theatre. Photo by Ian Jackson, Epic Photography
The story of conjoined twins Venus and Juno Hollis (Kaeley Jade Wiebe & Rebecca Sadowski) who relay the facts of their lives and other famous conjoined twins through song, conversation and anecdote. I was hooked from the moment they began singing. The songs are atmospheric and tight with an incredible tone and harmony. Both actors have beautiful, layered voices that sound great on their own and even more so when they sing together. The songs, composed by Wiebe, create a soundtrack that could live on it's own outside the play. Like the musicals Hadestown or Six, I would think that a recording of this show would be a highly desired commodity - so I am hoping that will come along in the future.
As you can imagine, the story is one of those beautifully odd ones - conjoined twins hidden from the world in fear, where the girls view themselves as one being and their struggles as they evolve their understanding of themselves as being two. We hear of their parent's love story and tragic fates and how they must contend with the dangers of the world. It shifts from song to story and back in a way that feels right (Book by Trevor Schmidt). Every element was carefully thought-out and constructed. The actors cannot move from their perch, due to their characters sharing three legs and arms, but their clever costume (Deanna Finnman) and set contains them beautifully, supported by the captivating lighting design by Roy Jackson.
I loved it. It is what theatre should be - excellent in all ways. It was an experience that gathered me up and held me in it's grasp until the very last moment, and one that I have thought often of in the last few days. I think I might go back again before it closes...
Two-Headed/Half-Hearted runs to May 7, 2022 at the Studio Theatre Inside Fringe Theatre Adventures, 10330 – 84 Ave. Tickets are available here.
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