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JOSH’S REVIEW: Keeper @ Ottawa Fringe 2013

Keeper is a bizarre and very unique look at how memories are formed and define a person. Emma Zabloski really immerses herself in the role and uses parts of her own life, both funny and tragic, for the piece. This isn’t for everyone, and the necessary audience participation may scare off some people, but I’d encourage you to go in with an open mind.Should you see it?

ThreeKeeper isn’t going to be for everyone. The strong emphasis on audience participation will scare some. It certainly did for a few people in the showing I went to. One gentleman had a permanent look of dread on his face, though at least he got to learn how to make perogies!

Let me backtrack a bit. Keeper, written and performed by Emma Zabloski, is about a being in a person’s mind responsible for storing and accessing memories. From the start, you know you’re in for something different as Zabloski comes on stage with a flash-light in a pitch black room. It’s an interesting idea, and you have to appreciate how completely Zabloski dives into the role. She even uses her own real-life memories and background for the show. There’s also great usage of lighting and audio to indicate when a certain memory is being accessed as a ping rings out and a spotlight appears each time. It’s effective and visually striking.

What seemed to rub some of the audience the wrong way was that Keeper absolutely required audience participation as Zabloski used a scene and volunteers to explain how new memories are created, and another where people came up and learned how to make perogies, which tied to Zabloski’s own Ukrainian heritage. There was one segment where a person is chosen to come up on stage, which fell to me in this show. I had the honour of playing Emma’s first kiss, which is certainly not something I can say about every show I’ve seen. It’s a little invasive, but I personally didn’t mind too much. I figured I should just go with it, but I can see some being very put off by this.

Keeper is definitely odd, but I enjoyed it. It didn’t wow me, but not everything is going to. I’d tell people to keep an open mind going into it. If there’s a major knock I have against it, it’s that the interactive nature of the show can overshadow the narrative and drama a somewhat. Still, it’s worth a look.

But that’s just what I thought. If you’ve seen Keeper, please let me know your opinion in the comments section below!

Keeper runs June 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th in Studio 311 (BYOV E) For more information, please visit our preview page.

Image for this article courtesy of Kimara Brilling via the Ottawa Fringe.


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