Various companies presented by Resounding Scream Theatre. At Chapel Arts on Thursday, May 24. Continues until May 26
Hive: the New Bees 2 is an intimate adventure, which is exactly what theatre should be.
In this evening, 12 emerging companies run their 10-minute shows simultaneously in the various nooks and crannies of Chapel Arts, which is a converted funeral home at Dunlevy and Cordova.
The performances I saw enjoyed varying levels of success, which is fine by me—this is an experimental initiative, after all—and some of the work is skilled and challenging.
Of the nine pieces I squeezed into, Chernobyl Opera, the Troika Collective’s exploration of the power-plant disaster, was the most impressive. Four women sing in thick, Baltic-sounding harmonies to the accompaniment of an accordion and cello. The sophisticated score swaggers like a peg-legged drunk, but, at the same time, its execution is terrifically precise; I especially enjoyed the rhythms that the performers tap out on separated halves of stacking dolls. The simple projections of text and photographs are elegant, and the content, which includes a passage that features an environmental inspector, is resonant without being pious or maudlin.
A show that a troupe called Tyler and Brad performs in a darkened van—kind of an old Winnebago—in an unlit garage is also very cool. In Road Trip Excessively Catalogued, all four audience members get a little flashlight, so you can check things out—the cold pizza, the empty beer bottles, the grubby sheets—as two actors sit in the driver’s and passenger’s seats and you listen while one of them tells you, in a tape-recorded voice, about their drive to the Super Bowl. In a very nice touch, the other guy gives his version of the story in a diary that you can find on the table. Particularly in the theatre, audiences are always charged with a large part of the task of creating an alternative reality. It’s great that Tyler and Brad push that idea so far and within such a creative framework.
What are you looking for?, Resounding Scream Theatre’s piece about dating, pushes the physicality and intimacy of theatre. You fill out a form, like at a dating service, then you wait for a match. When my date arrived, it wasn’t the 46- to 69-year-old man I’d requested—surprise, surprise—but an attractive young woman, who both delivered a prepared text and demanded my participation. When she asked me to close my eyes, I felt like my face was going to fall apart, like the social mask I was wearing was going to crumble and pure yearning was about to gush out.
Rice and beans theatre does an interesting piece in the morgue. George, a Floppy Disc Epic in 12 Parts: Part 1 is about a man and a woman—who may be his daughter or granddaughter—who both inhabit the same apartment although they exist in different times. This one has potential, but because the recorded text is hard to hear, much of that potential is lost.
Several folks told me that I shouldn’t miss Good Afternoon, Psyche Theatre’s piece, in which a lesbian love story unfolds in the building’s coat check—but I missed it. And Our Neighbourhood, Hardline Productions’ contribution in which you watch from the upstairs bar as action takes place across the street, was also getting good buzz.
In the end, that was the only real downside for me: the shows shut down at 10, when a party starts, and I needed them to keep running for another half-hour.