At the Centre for Digital Media at the Great Northern Way Campus on Thursday, March 11. Continues until March 20
That’s it. Push me. Harder. The most rewarding shows at HIVE 3 are also the most challenging.
In this smorgasbord of experimental work, 14 performances take place continuously in and around the Centre for Digital Media. The maximum running time is 15 minutes and audience capacities range from one to 25. On opening night, I saw nine of the 14 offerings, and enjoyed eight of them.
Radix’s Fever I adored. In this piece, which refers to H1N1, masked doctors lead you to a field hospital that’s been set up in a shipping container in the parking lot. There you are invited, lyrically and tenderly, to consider your own death. I don’t want to give too much away. Let me just say that I was moved—and completely ready to pass over.
My other fave, Leaky Heaven Circus’s Miss Vancouver, also unfolds in a shipping container. This one is about predatory sex. A masked, large-bodied female figure stares at the audience in what feels like overpowering rage as we listen to dialogue from the movie Scream, a telephone conversation between a freaked-out baby sitter and a homicidal maniac. The all-white space is spectacularly well lit by David Mesiha; text scrolls across the walls, and the colour shifts from lavender to lime as you consider your sexual fears and furies.
You won’t get out of Neworld Theatre’s Frisk without interacting with another human being in an uncomfortable way, and that’s appropriate, since this piece toys with notions of intimacy and the invasion of privacy. The opening sequences are banal, but the capper is a winner.
Although I didn’t catch it this time around, I saw Electric Company’s At Home With Dick and Jane at an earlier HIVE. This exploration of the interface between theatre and film is fantastic, and I urge you to take it in. November Theatre’s Ana, which is about the intimacy of analogue recording—and live performance—is subtle but perhaps too understated.
There are a number of shows that refer to gender stereotypes. In the Only Animal’s Sugar, ’50s housewives bake up sexual revenge. An oven-mitted wife cowers before her dominant husband in Theatre Conspiracy and GasHeart Theatre’s NAPathy. And in Pi Theatre’s House/Home, the husband talks about his satellite dish while the wife prattles on about feeding soup to sick people. I’m all for gender rebellion, but the terms advanced in these shows are getting stale. Sugar transcends that fact with winning theatricality; the housewives make performance art out of rolling out cookie dough, practically in your lap. And House/Home goes beyond its clichés when it peeks into the characters’ interior thoughts, which we hear in voice-over.
You Are Invited (Rumble Productions and TigerMilk Collective) sends up girlish foolishness in the context of a birthday party. Airheaded chicks feel like an easy target, but the piece keeps the audience moving and is often playfully engaging.
Of the shows I saw, only Felix Culpa’s Skunked tanked. This short play, which involves a therapeutic intervention by people dressed in Halloween costumes, is inconsequential and self-consciously weird.
In previous incarnations of HIVE, the terms set by shows have been more consistently surprising. That said, there’s a high rate of satisfaction at HIVE 3.