THE EXIT ROOM by Michael Spence, directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas, with Spence, Diane Niec, Joel Benson, Jason Jazrawy and Thomas. Presented by Theatre Gargantua at St. Stephen's in the Fields Church (365 College). Runs to December 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm. $12-$15, Tuesday pwyc. 260-4660. Rating: NNN
Theatre gargantua sure knows the value of a good image. Or a dozen of them. In The Exit Room, the final instalment of The Epoch Project, designers Brenda Guldenstein and Michael Spence play splendidly with ladders, light and translucent screens in the company's church venue.Director Jacquie P.A. Thomas capitalizes on a hallmark of Gargantua's style, a physicality that involves not only movement -- some of it exciting in its fearlessness -- but also chant, song and even panting. And this time around, projections add an otherworldly feel to the story.
Ah, the story. That's the problem. The tale of Estelle, a genetic researcher (Diane Niec) who joins a cult led by Darien (Spence) and is then deprogrammed by Isaac (Joel Benson), never rises to the level of the visuals. It's too much melodramatic movie-of-the-week.
Despite committed performances by a cast that includes Thomas as a senior scientist and Jason Jazrawy as a cult member, it's the visuals that linger, notably a construction of ladders designed to incarcerate, liberate and be played on in various senses.