Rarely Pure Theatre’s latest piece, James Johnson’s Choking the Butterfly is absolutely not to be missed! Premiering this past weekend at Windsor’s Garage Door Theatre, this stunning work was intense and moving beyond expectations.

Looking at the lives of formerly conjoined twins, whose knowledge of the world barely extends past one another, Choking the Butterfly takes us on a journey of self discovery and self loss, questioning all the while if one can exist without the other.

The show is embodied by three excellent performers: Christna Bryson, Ken Caughey and Michael Hogan. These actors mesmerized the audience, making the show’s 80 minutes feel like no time had passed at all. Bryson’s performance as Betty was every bit as strong and powerful as Johnson intended, as we witness Betty’s wings unfurl little by little. Her transformation is in such stark contrast to her brother Barney’s (Caughey) decline, and yet you pity each of them in their own way. Caughey nearly had me in tears; to watch Barney try to be like Betty, try to be a strong man, and yet constantly face physical and mental roadblocks made me ache for him. Brody, played by Hogan, becomes this interesting influential force in the lives of Betty and Barney, aiding in their simultaneous rise and fall. We see his personal struggles come through in every action, every decision Brody makes, and then watch their affect on the twins. Truly, I was amazed at the performances that were given, the dedication and full embodiment of these characters was wonderful to behold, and makes it such a can’t miss show. 

The set being simple and versatile, and so perfectly suited to the space made it a true experience for the audience. The bare costuming lets us focus on them as people while also providing us with constant reminders of where they’ve been over the course of the story. We see their hardships written on their bodies, their clothes and in their faces. The audience is faced with the gravity of the situation without anything to distract them, which makes the work all the more engaging and heartbreaking.

If you’re in the Toronto area and want to catch this amazing show, it’s on at The Storefront Theatre from June 9-12 and 15-19. You can check out their Facebook page for more info and tickets!

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