Queen West got a bracing shot of performance-art culture with the Free Fall fest, which closed last Sunday. Eight companies from across the country displayed their cutting-edge wares, and word of mouth was so strong that shows were selling out in the final days.
Highlights? Katie Kehoe 's Haircut turned the audience into performers and directors by giving them flashlights and barber equipment, with Polaroids recording their efforts.
Quebec City's Les Productions Recto-Verso pulled off a visual coup with Fragments 2 , a version of Samuel Beckett 's That Time, conceived by Caroline Ross . The voice-over text wasn't always easy to hear or follow, but what we saw always fascinated. Twenty flexible mirrors on the ceiling moved projections onto five sides of the white box in which viewers sat along with actor Gabriel Gascon , surprisingly expressive despite his unmoving death mask face. Presenting shards of imagery and memory, the piece was a jigsaw puzzle that we each helped put into some subjective order.
Sean MacMahon and Kevin Rees-Cummings proved again their strong chemistry in emergency exit 's trilogie , a multidisciplinary exploration of time, movement and simple theatrics set in the framework of an air flight. Part Beckett-like humour, part non sequiturs, part frenzied dances, trilogie asks us to re-examine what we consider a theatrical performance.
Vancouver's Boca del Lupo brought The Perfectionist , a physical theatre piece whose text about a troubled relationship was flawed but whose visuals and live music (by Joelysa Pankanea ) were strong. Daring performers Jay Dodge and Sherry J. Yoon blended beautifully with Jay White 's projected animation and John Webber 's striking lighting.
The discovery of the festival was Halifax's 2b theatre , whose show Revisited , a one-hour riff on Our Town, sat its 28-member audience around a rectangular table. We became the community of the small New Hampshire town, including the deceased in the third-act graveyard scene.
Director Christian Barry and actors Steven McCarthy and Michelle Monteith created, with heartfelt immediacy, a moving piece. The skilled artists told the story, gorgeously elegant in its simplicity, with the lightness and luminescence of a soap bubble.
Please, someone, bring it back for a longer run.