Right! Intermission is finally over (I certainly hope you availed yourself of refreshments at the Visitorium bar…Winston mixes a mean margarita), and now it’s time to dim the lights, pull back the curtains, end this stupid goddam metaphor and get on with part two of my Evolution Theatre double-bill review. Because now I’m two shows behind AGAIN in writeups, and I’m not getting any less tired. So hang in there, Algonquin Theatre, I’ll get to you soon!
But there’s another show that I have to cover first, having already spoken somewhat glowingly of its sister show, MARY MAGDALENE AND ADVENTURES IN SOBRIETY one post back. And part two of that 2-bill was Darren O’Donnell’s weirdsterpiece [boxhead], maybe the most perfectly apt title for a show in the history of theatre (not counting the original title of Shakespeare’s timeless classic, ROMEO AND JULIET PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO THEIR PARENTS). The story of a young geneticist who wakes up one day to find a box on his head that he can’t get off, leaps to several incorrect conclusions, dances, contemplated suicide, and finally accidentally clones himself. Well, not ‘finally’…that’s just where things start getting interesting.
I don’t want to spoil much of the show, and really, it’s impossible to. From the first minute to the reality-bending final scenes, [boxhead] is one of the most bizarrely and endearingly unique plays that I’ve ever, and ever expect TO see in Ottawa, at least anytime soon. I was actually acutely aware during the show that I was watching something really special…not to mention ball-bustingly hysterical and beautifully, batshit insane. Directed by the Lady Alix Sideris, and starring Stewart Matthews and Chris Bedford (almost ridiculously impressive as the twin Boxheads, each bedevilled by mysterious,Godlike disembodied voices), the sheer level of skill, ingenuity and chutzpah on display in this production alone makes it worth the price of admission. From Pierre Ducharme’s beautiful light-based set, to some amazing choreography (especially from actors with highly impaired vision) and priceless physical comedy (and yes, full-frontal nudity…Evolution puts on a SHOW, god dammit), there’s something mind-boggling around every sharp corner in this production. It honestly is not to be missed, because people don’t get crazy enough to tackle projects like this very often.
And you know that bit at the end of a show? When the actors are taking their applause, and they point up to the heavens like the Babe calling his hit? Well, what they’re actually doing is pointing towards the Tech booth, and asking that you give the folks up there some love. BELIEVE me when I say you want to clap a little harder than usual when Stewart and Chris do it this time, because what Stage Manager Nick Alain and his team were going through with this show (hint: 600+ technical cues is kind of a lot) deserves more than a little kudos.
I’m not going to even try and go into the meaning of this piece…fuck that. This show is like a bowl of Alpha-Bits…every person is gonna read it differently. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of smarts under that madness And more than suffice it to say, the MARY MAGDALENE/[boxhead] double-bill might just be the best bang for your theatrical buck all year. I still can’t believe it, myself. It’s…it’s just so fucking awesome, gang. PLEASE go out and support this stuff, because if you don’t, then…then I don’t know. I guess maybe JERSEY SHORE is on somewhere..? But don’t watch that. Watch this instead. That’s really what I’m saying. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)