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IT COMES IN WAVES conceived by bluemouth inc., written by Jordan Tannahill in collaboration with bluemouth inc. and Jennifer Tarver.
IT COMES IN WAVES conceived by bluemouth inc., written by Jordan Tannahill in collaboration with bluemouth inc. and Jennifer Tarver (bluemouth inc./Necessary Angel/Panamania). Meet at Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre (283A Queens Quay West). Runs to July 24. 7:40 pm. $30-$47. Necessaryangel.squarespace.com. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Immersing myself in the fascinating full-evening experience of It Comes In Waves, I realize just how much Ive missed bluemouth inc. For a time in the late 90s and early 2000s, the site-specific, experimental company was an essential part of our theatre ecology. Nobody comes close to doing what they do.
Returning to town with this Panamania commission (and working with writer Jordan Tannahill, Necessary Angel and that companys director, Jennifer Tarver), bluemouth takes the audience on an epic journey that’s physical, emotional and dramatic.
Setting off from Harbourfront in a canoe with a dozen or so others is a unique experience. Ill never forget the obnoxious guy behind me (a fellow audience member, it turns out) continually barking Paddle, dont row! Or the woman in front of me who paddles against everyone elses strokes before finally giving up.
It takes us over half an hour to reach the island. Only later do I realize why this part of the trip is important. Its contemplative (despite the aggressive passenger), making me feel part of something larger, and theres a sense of going from one world to another. Think myths. Think underworld.
Once we arrive on the island (and reunite with the other canoe groups), were greeted by a leader (Stephen OConnell) and a band, told about an upcoming birthday party and led to our destination. During that walk, as dusk settles and the mosquitoes come out, there are lots of surprises. Voices beckon from other parts of the island. Along the shore we hear the lapping of waves, a soprano voice calling, beckoning. A siren? A woman looks out at the lake, her back to us.
We are given little notebooks to write our thoughts and impressions in: song lyrics, things we love. The experience of digging into our pasts as we head deeper into the island and night quietly falls around us is lovely. On the south side of the island, where you cant see the skyline, the sounds and sights are different. One remarkable image after another unfolds with quiet power.
After arriving at the place where the party is to happen, there are tasks to do and a palpable sense of anticipation. Will the birthday man appear? OConnell tells us he will be docking soon. Will he be surprised? While we wait, the companys other performers (Ciara Adams, Lucy Simic and Dan Wild) tell stories about family problems and one climactic car ride. There are some beautifully suggestive dance sequences, time periods shifting with the subtle changes in light (by Patrick Lavender) and sound (by Richard Windeyer, who’s also in the band with Gabi Charron-Merritt).
And thats all Ill say. Theres a sense of ritual and healing, and a final bit of dancing and singing that make you feel youve gone through something at once personal and universal.
On the water taxi back to the city, your mind and heart will be full of memories.