Out on a Limb

PHANTOM LIMB by Spencer Hazel, directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas, with Erica Buss, Michael Spence, Diane Niec, Hazel, Cait.


PHANTOM LIMB by Spencer Hazel, directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas, with Erica Buss, Michael Spence, Diane Niec, Hazel, Cait Davis and Joel Benson. Presented by Theatre Gargantua and 2021 Performance at Artword (75 Portland). Runs to April 28, Wednesday-Sunday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $20, stu/srs $15, Sunday pwyc. 416-366-7723. Rating: NN

Rating: NN

phantom limb might as well be called Fleeting Feelings. The latest Theatre Gargantua show — a multimedia work co-produced with 2021 Performance — looks at five friends’ memories of poet John Mackie. A blend of his poetry and their recollections of Mackie and his family, the piece literally leaps from one moment to the next, and it’s in the actors’ physicality that the production comes to life.Spencer Hazel’s script — with added material by Jane Siberry and Michael Timmins — incorporates anecdotal tales and voice-over verse that should give us a composite view of Mackie, who’s no longer in the speakers’ lives. Dead? Missing? We’re not quite sure.

More problematic is that the piece is emotionally uninvolving, at least for the audience. Only in Erica Buss’s monologue about her changed relationship with Mackie does the necessary anger, hurt and remembered joy have real resonance.

But as always with Gargantua, the movement is wonderfully, at times awesomely, disciplined. Climbing a V-shaped wall or flinging themselves around the stage, the company morph from characters to a tide rolling in and out, from a nightmarish forest to frantic mourners.

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