UNDERCURRENTS 2012 – And Then it Falls Open

Whee!  Day Two of Undercurrents already!  Okay, okay, it’s, like, day six as I write this, but I’ve only been twice, so shaddup.  I’d already seen BLUE BOX and LIVE FROM  THE BELLY OF A WHALE in a previous post I’m too lazy and shiftless to link to just now, so you might have to take my word on that.  But this Saturday, following a harrowing Brunch shift at work and a lovely dinner with the prettiest Hobo I’ve ever encountered, it was back to the studio at the GCTC for some more Theatre festival goodness.

I said Prettiest, not Littlest.

First up was a show actually begun at LAST year’s festival, when a group of enterprising theatre scamps known collectively as 2 Little Birds set up shop in the lobby and engaged fest-goers in interviews, creative workshops and interviews.  It was called, simply, The Lab.  Over the course of two weeks, they gathered information from patrons about what they wanted to see in a play, or a show, what they did NOT want to see, , what moved them, and so on and so forth.  One year later, the Labbies have returned with the results of their endeavour, AND THEN IT HAPPENED.

Consisting of Kiersten Hanly, Laura Astwood, Guy Marsan and director Sarah Conn, AND THEN… is a curious and likeable show with a somewhat chaotic feel at times, but then, it is literally experimental theatre..and as they tell us up front, the experiment may in fact have failed.    In their attempts to follow through on the data gathered and give the audience ‘what it wants’, a quite lovable mix of scenes and setups followed  My fav’rits bits were Guy Marsan dancing like a raccoon, and Kiersten and Sarah recreating an arts interview on a pair of little girls.  The show shifts tone rather dramatically at one point, and the performers challenge themselves to bare themselves (not physically, come on now) to the audience, with mixed but engaging results…Laura Astwood’s physical performance, as well as the story she tells, are rivetting from the first moment.  If this sounds like I’m having trouble describing the show, well…I am, and I’m just fine with that.  The gang is all over the map with this one, and while they admit you probably won’t like everything in this show, I can very strongly guess that you WILL like a lot in it…I did.  But don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.

After a quick stop at the pub, it was right back into the studio for a returning Fringe show, one of the most buzz-worthy shows of 2011 (note: that was the first, and I hope the last, time I use the word ‘buzz-worthy’ in these pages.  Thank you.), Luna Allison’s FALLING OPEN.  Directed by Lib Spry, this show originally took place in Luna’s own bedroom, which took the theatrical concept of intimacy to almost ridiculous lengths.  It’s been adapted somewhat in staging to accommodate a larger space, which happily gives this amazing show a chance at a much-deserved wider audience.

The show features Luna, a shockingly engaging performer as three separate characters in what could have been a dreadfully heavy, gloomy affair in any other hands.  A story about the sexual abuse of a young girl and the fallout on said girl’s life, Luna gives daringly sympathetic portrayals of both the girl AND her abuser, while weaving both tales together as a life-sized living doll, our narrator for the tragic events.  Luna’s background as a spoken-word poet are on display with her easy wordplay and delivery, and she draws the audience in  with easy confidence throughout.  Video images supplied by artist Nathan Hoo flesh out the twisted family portrait feel of the show, which has lost none of its potency in the move to bigger digs.  A shocking show, and I know the subject matter will turn some folks away, but I wish it wouldn’t.  Be brave, folks, you’ll be glad you did.

That’s it for me and this inexcusably late post…Gotta rest up for some extra-strength FOOFARAH! tomorrow, and then back for my final UNDERCURRENTS POST in a few days.  Thanks for reading, gang, and I’ll see you in the studio.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

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