HOW SOON IS NOW conceived, created and performed by bluemouth inc. Presented by bluemouth inc. and the Theatre Centre at the Dupont Lofts (corner of Dupont and Lansdowne). To June 1. Pwyc-$20. 416-538-0988. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Terrifying things happen in abandoned buildings. Prisoners are locked away in isolation, interrogated and tortured. Sometimes a group of people gets to witness it.
In How Soon Is Now , site-specific troupe bluemouth inc .'s disturbingly effective look at group hysteria and scapegoatism, we in the audience are that group, drawn together to watch the capture and death of the big bad wolf.
If that wolf metaphor isn't too subtle, well, bluemouth makes it a tad more universal by having a sadistic ringleader named Duck ( Sabrina Reeves ) bark orders to us in German. We're led through various cold, dark rooms till we get to a wide-open space where we're treated to a Weimar-style cabaret act.
Turns out the wolf is sitting among us. And that's when the frantic chase and capture begins.
A more focused version of bluemouth's 2002 piece The Memory Of Bombs, How Soon Is Now rubs our noses in wartime paranoia and violence. We feel it up close, in one remarkable reveal in a dark room, and we also feel it seated on benches (including a courtroom bench) as if in judgment of the characters.
As with most bluemouth shows, design and space contribute as much as text and performance. Richard Windeyer's sound design includes hysteria-inducing drum rolls and frantic trumpet calls, while film elements heighten the atmosphere with allusions to Expressionist German cinema.
The characters, loosely inspired by Prokofiev's tale of Peter And The Wolf, represent various archetypes, but the actors give them blood and guts with their physicality and presence. It's pretty effective that guest artist Stacie Morgain Lewis , who's visibly pregnant, gets to play a vengeance-seeking mother figure.
Special mention goes to Stephen O'Connell , whose sacrificial wolf climbs the walls and is literally dragged across the floor in the name of justice.
The script, though occasionally precious, tightens up near the end for a conclusion that's disturbing yet within this wild, dreamlike universe that mirrors our own appropriate.