Undercurrents 2 015

Undercurrents 2015: Marathon offers a surreal aesthetic that leaves a haunting resonance.

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

Marathon is the type of performance that will leave you with more questions than answers. The staging is simple: Three people (self-acknowledged actors) dressed in running gear run around a stage. They have begun even before we have arrived. We are asked to sit on all four sides of the stage, looking in on their Beckettian, goalless task as it unfolds for an hour and a half. A projection is cast onto the stage floor: “42.2 K” – the distance of a marathon.

The narrative of the show is developed in waves – little by little, the three characters reveal themselves to be burdened and bound to their nationality. They are actors in a never-ending race, just as they are actors performing their day to day lives as Israeli citizens. And though their stories are distinct, the show arrives at some deeply revealing commonalities: The role of religion, language, the national service, and a deeply ingrained sense of duty.

(more…)

Undercurrents 2015: Spin is a patchwork quilt of ideas.

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

A singer-songwriter and a bicycle-playing percussionist invite audiences to join them on a musical interlude around an object of great social significance: The bicycle. Are you hooked? At its core, Spin show is a love-letter to bicycles, and the women who loved them. What emerges is a performance that is great fun, though it ultimately values substance at the expense of form.

In a series of vignettes, creator/musician/actress/activist evalyn parry boldly strings a narrative that broaches social resistance movements, feminism, and the evolution of bipedal locomotion. All of this and more! The show is thematically tied together through the humble bicycle, and even more so since percussionist Brad Hart compliments the performance by using a bicycle as a musical instrument.

(more…)

Undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream: from charming and engaging to a show that deserves a “punch out”. Langston has been to Arts Court.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

far-near-here-opens-the-undercurrents-festival-on-february Photo. Andrew Alexander.

Far & Near & Here (THUNK!Theatre, Ottawa)

It sounds too twee for words. Ned (Geoff McBride) is a klutzy ship builder living in Far. Ted (Karen Balcome), who lives in Near, is an earnest illustrator fond of drawing specimens of marine life.  The two meet via snail mail then row out to sea in separate boats and get together at a spot called Here. Life-changing travails define their collective journey.

So it’s a pleasant surprise that despite initially choppy seas – the opening scene in which they prepare to ship ahoy needs radical pruning – and a couple of instances of trying too hard, the play, far from being twee, is charming and engaging.

With just a bunch of empty pop and water bottles plus two office chairs for a set, playwrights/performers McBride and Balcome lead you to care about their awkward but gentle characters who weather a near-disaster at sea and break through self-defensiveness to reach an admirable honesty in their relationship.

Emily Pearlman directs.

(more…)

Past Reviews