Knowâ€™s “Mongrel” is a Campfire Story on Steroids
By Liz Eichler and Sherri Ogden Wellington
If youâ€™ve been waiting to be wowed by theatre again, you must see Adam Tranâ€™s â€œMongrelâ€ being produced by Know Theatre.Â You can experience it live under the stars at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, or stream it.Â It is a campfire story on steroids.Â Everythingâ€”the setting, costumes, lighting, direction, script and of course, the performanceâ€”will remind you how great–and primal–live theatre can be.Â Â
“Mongrel” is the story of the Great Khan, the charismatic leader of the Mongols who swept across the world in the 12th and 13th century, crushing all resistance in their path building a formidable empire. Tranâ€™s carefully crafted story has strong messages that resonate:Â parental influence shapes us, the importance of not limiting oneself, and making mistakes is a part of growth. It is the story of a boy who never belonged, looking to be a part of something.Â Â Looking to prove himself, looking for guidance.Â Listening to the advice of his mother, bride, and blood brother, he shaped and stayed true to his vision.
The location of the performance takes one back thousands of years when our ancestors were telling stories around the fire.Â It is extremely intimate, even though it is outdoors.Â At the beginning of the play, you are welcomed as a prisoner while your fate is being decided in an offstage battle. The man who greets you helps you pass the time as he shares his life story. He pulls in the props, rearranges the benches, and changes his clothing in front of you with a fluidity that is flawless. You lean in closer.
The ambiance transports you. A real fire, the natural night noises of the park, the perfect setting and lighting (Andrew Hungerford) and sound (Doug Borntrager) support the story.Â The sound cues are spot on. The show completely fills your senses and transports you to the Great Khanâ€™s world, complete with excellent props and clothing (Kayla Williams and Alix Frisch). Original music by Christopher Tin and Alex Williamson further elevates this experience.
Finally, Adam Tran is an engaging performer. He will captivate you as he channels a range of characters and beliefs, all the way from a relaxed surfer dude to a testosterone fueled animal.Â His energy and humor entice you to join him on his extremely ruthless, violent, passionate and focused life journey. Directed by Rebecca Wear, the audience is part of the action, at times laughing, other times, a bit repulsed, and even frightened.
Get your tickets now.Â Â It is worth the drive to Pyramid Hill (in Hamilton) to be moved by Adam Tranâ€™s â€œMongrelâ€â€” one of the most insightful theatrical experiences of the summer.Â Gates open at 7 pm. Get there early to explore the modern monoliths in the park. Show starts at 8 pm and lasts approximately 70 minutes. Live performances end September 12, but you can purchase a streamed performance throughout September. Tickets for both are available at Know Theatre.