Puzzling out the paradox of identity: Fetch, a 12thnight Fringe review

Cat Walsh and Lora Brovold in Fetch, Interloper Theatre. Photo by Epic Photography.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

Fetch (Stage 28, The Playhouse)

Two women stand before us, in identical dresses, with identical hairdos, holding identical boxes. They are both named Hannah Morgan.

And in Cat Walsh’s clever new mind-bender, which turns the mystery of identity into a kind of unnerving horror story, they seem to be the same woman. And, like the cat in the box in the famous Schrödinger’s Cat quantum physics puzzle, she is both alive and dead.

Or not.

Both Hannah Morgans, played by Lora Brovold and the playwright herself in Suzie Martin’s production, and, weirdly, aware of each other, are haunted by defining moments of childhood. Which is, in itself, a resonant insight into the way the architecture of identities are built, elaborately, on something tiny and long gone. In the case of the two Hannah Morgans, who seem to be alternate versions of each other or mirror images, or doppelgangers, the moments are different, and so are the perspectives. But the location is the same: a Florida amusement park that was the destination of a family vacation of long ago.

“All accidents are a surprise but not all surprises are accidents.” Hold that thought. Or not.

One Hannah Morgan (Walsh) is breezier, apparently more chipper until she isn’t, as she recalls a childhood full of the aggravations of many older siblings. The other Hannah Morgan (Brovold), an only child, is grimmer, more defined at the outset by grievance and loss.

Both stories of growing up — and telling what it’s like to be the Hannah Morgan who grew up — are different, and also the same: they intersect from time to time. At one recurring intersection — and it gets creepier and more disturbing — is a small stuffed toy dog named Mr. Anderson.

Hold that thought. Or not.

Walsh, who gravitates to black comedy, is a witty writer. And in Fetch her writing for the Hannah Morgans as six-year-olds, you’ll be amused (and a little rattled) by her dark insights into the morbid kid mind, beautifully captured by the deadpan gravitas of the actors.

It’s a puzzle of a play, in a fascinating way, teasing and smart. There are many mysteries here, including the one in which there are alternative versions of you, running around telling people about your childhood from another angle. I will not be explaining Fetch; I can’t. I’ve asked my mind to Fetch, but it won’t Sit or Lie Down. 

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