This Prison or He Came Through the Floor.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Categories: Ottawa Fringe 2015

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By Johnny Wideman (Theatre of the Beat, Stouffville, Ontario). Performers are Johnny Wideman as the prisoner, writer and director. Benjamin Wert is his astonished interlocutor who pops up through the floor to rescue him, except that  Wideman does not want to  be rescued. This begins an amusing fantasy where a longtime prisoner, on death row, has obviously become  out of touch with the outside reality, while turning into an obsessive compulsive creature in relation to his  prison routines and cannot imagine another kind of life away from this cell, even though it  means he will soon be executed.

What can the new arrival who just bursts through the floor, do to convince this Johnny to leave? A frustrating piece of writing because although Johnny is strong and amusimg and Benjamin tries to clarify everything for him, Johnny cannot be penetrated by any kind of logic as to his situation. He is about to die and he does not seem to care. The point of this is not particularly clear. Is it the dehumanizing force of long term prison? is it a dialogue between two realities trying to grasp the superiority of one or the  other whereas nothing really changes? after about 30 minutes I felt i would have liked to hear more intervention by the new intruder. Johnny’s banter became tiring and kept turning in on itself. Playful preciosity, talking to hear himself toss words about, spouting a logic that did not exist. Even the ending when he suddently breaks into tears made no sense at all since he kept insisting he wants to die.

This Prison or He Came Through the Floor  was not  particularly satisfying although there will soon be a full fledged performance of this show with the dialogue worked out to  a more satisftying stage. 

Venue Studio Léonard Beaulne.

 


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