AMERICAN STANDARD by bluemouth inc, with Stephen O'Connell, Jeff Douglas, Lucy Simic and Richard Windeyer. Pat's Barber Shop (2 D'Arcy). Runs to April 2, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm. $20. www.totix. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's time to take another theatrical trip into the wild blue yonder with bluemouth inc .
A troupe that turns site-specific venues into statements as eloquent as their performances, bluemouth begins American Standard , which looks at the nightmarish degradation of the American dream, at a simple barber shop near the AGO. But just as the theme of the show is the transmutation of an ideal into something less than perfect, the production travels on a similar journey of change until we're in a mirror version - at times a carnival-mirror version - of the original.
Sound heady and complex? Don't worry. Just go along with this multimedia show while you watch Stephen O'Connell play seven different characters, including a priest, entertainer, immigrant and terrorist, reciting poetic text and using his acrobatic body to invigorate these roles.
He and the other performers - Richard Windeyer , Jeff Douglas and Lucy Simic - literally perform a song and dance in the intimate one-hour show, in which the actors work in close proximity to the audience and at times involve them in the action.
O'Connell holds it all together with his hypnotic, fearless performance, sometimes boyishly charming, sometimes fanatically intense. With the aid of home movies, melodies, mirrors, lighting and some theatrical magic, he physically and verbally skewers the elitist politics that keep the majority in their place of powerlessness.
Though the text is sometimes too dense to take in, the visuals are always impressive. And if the company's take on what's happening south of the border isn't startling, the presentation leaves you feeling as fresh as if you've just had a shave and a haircut. Dramatically speaking, this one's worth far more than two bits.