It’s a well-established trope that all families are crazy. For some families, crazy takes its form in a kooky aunt who wears drapey clothes and smells like menthol. The cute kind of crazy. Then there are the not-so-cute crazy kinds, replete with family counselling sessions and passive aggressive comments, raging arguments and hushed conversations. This is the crazy of Little One, a reprisal from Vancouver’s 2014 Fringe Festival, that goes for the jugular of intense family drama with an added dose of quirk; an emotional thriller that’s able to capitalize off of some quality cringe inducing humour.
The play, written by Hannah Moscovitch and directed by Amiel Gladstone, centers on two siblings, Aaron, and his highly peculiar fellow adopted sister, Claire, and captures the emotional upheaval of familial obligations taken to the extreme. The play retains its Fringe-like charm with a minimalist set that allows the complex emotions playing out onstage to remain the focus while the hour-long uninterrupted format lets the tension build slowly and steadily, ending in a dizzying emotional frenzy.
The show owes a large part of its success to Daniel Arnold and Marisa Smith’s performances as Aaron and Claire. Together and apart, their delivery is necessarily adept for the elaborate storytelling structure of the play. Smith’s performance is sharp and exacting, generating an impressive amount of suspense and intrigue with the use of Moscovitch’s carefully crafted soliloquies. She hits the audience with just the right look at just the right time and carries her body in such a way as to craft the perfect balance between expressing a sense of childishness and impending doom. Arnold’s performance as Aaron provides a welcome foil to Claire’s subtly terrifying stories; his affability and sense of comedic timing adding a helpful amount of relatability and warmth to the play.
Little One plays at the Firehall Arts Centre until February 13, 2016. Tickets and information available at the Firehall's website.