THE FOUR HORSEMEN PROJECT conceived and directed by Kate Alton and Ross Manson (Volcano/Crooked Figure Dances/Global Mechanic). At the Factory (125 Bathurst). To March 4. Pwyc-$35.50. 416-504-9971. See Continuing, page 70. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
Recent shows like the canstage revival of Hair and Passe Muraille's The Rochdale Project have tried to resurrect the anarchic, questing counterculture spirit.
Neither succeeded as convincingly or with as much intelligence and infectious energy as The Four Horsemen Project , Kate Alton and Ross Manson 's multimedia homage to the Canadian sound poetry troupe of the 1970s.
Rafael Barreto-Rivera , Paul Dutton , Steve McCaffery and bp Nichol 's poems get us to experience sounds and words on an intuitive, playful level, not an intellectual one. Rhythm, pitch and the movement of the body communicate as much as the organized combination of letters. And the arrangement of those letters can be hilarious, too.
There's no precedent for a show like this, which features four performers best known as dancers not only moving but singing, speaking and (for lack of a better word) vocalizing, often creating sounds that are way off the harmonic spectrum.
The brilliantly coutured performers share the stage with Bruce Alcock 's inventive animation, which fills up set/costume designer Cass Reimer 's bare white stage like wild scribblings and doodles on a blank page. (This is one show where it might be best to sit in the Factory's balcony to properly appreciate the stage picture.)
Each of the performers gets his or her chance to groove and move in the spotlight, in between witty archival clips of the Horsemen themselves and contributions from one style-challenged TV show host. It's telling that though the original troupe consisted of four white men, this cast is a refreshing rainbow of talent.
For a show that's so proudly non-narrative and non-linear, Manson and Alton create a structure that's satisfying, playing with moods, rhythm and image to come to an inevitable and even emotionally rich conclusion.
Be prepared to add your laughter and applause to the sounds in this thrilling, one-of-a-kind show.