Walking Upside-Down Underwater Drowns in Mystery

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Walking Upside-down Underwater by Dan Savoie 6
Walking Upside-Down Underwater – Photo by Dan Savoie

Windsor Feminist Theatre is known for presenting powerful and potent stories since it first began in 1980. Its latest production, Walking Upside-Down Underwater by local playwright Edele Winnie is most certainly one such story. It opened last weekend and runs for two more shows: May 12 and 13 at The Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor.

Julie Petar is an overworked, selfless mother and wife. Julie was the one everyone counted on and the backbone to so many people and relationships in her life. In turn, she was a bit of a control freak and was under extreme amounts of stress. Julie also had secrets. A secret addiction and a secret relationship. Often times, to decompress Julie would go out for nature walks and then would come home to make dinner for her family. One day, she went out for a stroll and never came home. Vanished. All that was found was her cellphone in a bush, her hat and her gloves, folded up perfectly and placed on the ground. Months go by. As the police interview her husband, coworkers, and neighbours the case grows ever murkier. Was she kidnapped? Was she abducted by aliens? Did she run away to live on an island with a hot, secret lover? Was she murdered? What is up with her friendship with the creepy neighbour? What has happened to Julie Petar?

The overall acting of the play was first-class and each actor provided a different impact to the play that added that extra layer of emotion as well as humour. Joey Ouellette provided an emotional performance while her portrayed Peter Petar. He showed fantastic range between anger, pain, and anxiety. Luke Boughner was an excellent comedic relief and gave his role of the neighbour just enough nuance to his character where he is creepy but also charming and funny. Fay Lynn gave her role of Detective Denise a vast range of affections to show the frustrations and emotional highs and lows of what one would go through when working on a case that has no clues and no witnesses. She was able to humanize her character while remaining a doyenne in the story. Brianna Morneau did a stellar job and even though she was the youngest cast member, she gave her role as Jenny blazing ebb and flow. She showed a wide range of feeling. One’s parent going missing at such a young age can be terrifying and she brought the perfect amounts of variety to her presentation. The direction and production was well-done and did very well showcasing range from including where and when the scene is set, props are needed, to how the character moves and how lines convey the emotional state of a character.

The design elements of the play were very simple but just had enough components to carry the story without long scene transitions. The Shadowbox Theatre is a very small, intimate place and does not allow for grand scenes and props. However, the Shadowbox has been very creative with how they utilize this area to tell the story in a comprehensible way. The set stays consistently staged as the Petar’s residence but takes place in a forest, Julie’s place of work and a police station as well. To change the scenery and sell the fantasy of different scenes, they utilize a podium, soundscapes, spotlights and office furniture. The costuming was very straight forward but was utilized to show off time passing in the story and shared a glimpse of who each actor was portraying. This production did not require big, flashy props and costumes to tell you exactly what was happening in the productions because the creative team did such an excellent job with minimalism.

This is my third play at the Shadowbox theatre, and it was hands down one of the most impactful productions I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing, and I would absolutely recommend going to see drama/mystery. Throughout the entire production, you are guessing where the story is going to go and how it’s going to conclude. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, this production couldn’t have come at a better time. Showcasing media that openly portrays mental health can reduce misconceptions and stigma and can encourage those who are suffering to seek help. This is a very delicate thing to do because it can also be harmful if the portrayal glamorizes mental health and addiction, it can lead to it can trivialize the severity of mental health problems and it may not be taken seriously.

Playwright Edele Winnie does a fantastic job with her original story surrounding this subject matter. It is thought-provoking, charming, evocative, unpredictable and thoroughly entertaining. I would absolutely recommend checking out this production.

Walking Upside-Down Underwater plays May 12th to the 13th, 2023 at 8:00 pm. The show runs approximately 2 hours. Recommended for mature audiences.

Tickets are available at the Shadowbox Theatre (1501 Howard Ave., at the corner of Howard and Shepherd in Windsor, ON), or online at www.postproductionswindsor.ca.

Walking Upside-Down Underwater - Photo by Dan Savoie
Walking Upside-Down Underwater – Photo by Dan Savoie
Walking Upside-Down Underwater - Photo by Dan Savoie
Walking Upside-Down Underwater – Photo by Dan Savoie
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