It might have been stormy last weekend -- and the musical acts in the courtyard had to move indoors -- but the weather didn't dampen the spirits of either presenters or audiences at the third annual Lab Cab.
Organized by artistic director Aviva Armour-Ostroff and artistic producer André du Toit, a cornucopia of artists filled Factory Theatre, not just the theatres but also non-traditional spaces like the stairwells and washrooms.
I caught more than 20 of the shows and visual displays, and that wasn't even half of what was on offer. It wasn't hard catching that many, since most of the performances were less than 30 minutes long.
Highlights? Helen Donnelly's clown Foo, looking for buried treasure with the help of the audience and ending up singing a gibberish torch song that caught her mood of dejection. Daniel Sadavoy made great use of a pair of flashlights in the storytelling-based This Old House, set in the carpentry shop; its quasi-mythic history of Factory Theatre turned into a series of ghost stories.
Camille And Treena Stubel played with puppetry and country music in The SpaceCow Kids, set on the main Factory staircase. The performers became the offspring of a cowboy and a woman from outer space, searching for their parents (kidnapped by the government) and eventually transforming into their true alien selves. Silly fun.
There was more serious matter in Jenny's Room, Lauren Brotman's movement-and-text piece about an older woman caught both in her own memories and in a not-very-concerned health-care system. Performed by Brotman, Sharon Forrester and Clair Wynveen and directed by Jack Grinhaus, this piece holds lots of promise.
We got a look into the process of the Housebound Collective, a group of eight talented women who meet regularly to explore the meaning of housebound, how it can both be constricting and liberating. Not so much a performance as a let's-all-get-involved, the session included lemonade and cupcakes, stitching, talking and sharing. It proved a different and fascinating way for the audience to be part of the collective's process.
But for sheer theatricality, you couldn't beat Yichud/Seclusion, written by Julie Tepperman and performed by Tepperman and Aaron Willis. Set in the private room where a newly married Jewish couple spend their first minutes alone, the very funny piece brought the audience into close contact with the nervous couple. Fiddler On The Roof and an uncomfortable practical joke also played a part. In the hands of Willis and Tepperman, the piece had a true charm and touching immediacy.