SOMETHING ABOUT A RIVER a site-specific trilogy created and directed by bluemouth inc., with Stephen O'Connell, Sabrina Reeves, Lucy Simic, Richard Windeyer, Ciara Adams, Chad Dembski, Kevin Rees-Cummings, Christopher Taylor-Wright and Robert Tremblay. Runs to Saturday, November 29, Thursday-Saturday. The Fire Sermon (7 pm, Metro XXX Theatre, 677 Bloor West); Death By Water (9 pm, The Bates and Dodds Funeral Parlor, 931 Queen West), What The Thunder Said (11 pm, warehouse, 376 Dufferin, rear). Bus leaves 7 pm from Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson) for transit between sites. $15 (one segment), $20 (two segments) $25 (all three), limited Thursday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the best way to appreciate blue mouth inc. 's Something About A River is just to flow with it, to be picked up by the current and catch landmarks along the way. The three-part, five-hour saga follows the path of Toronto's now-underground Garrison Creek, which begins around St. Clair and meanders down to Lake Ontario. Driven from one venue to another on a Magic Bus and told the connected histories of the creek and of a family who lived and died by it, the audience goes on a mini-epic journey where narrative structure dissolves into emotional and visceral episodes with some suggested links.
It begins in a porn house, continues outside to a dark park before spilling into a fortune-telling session in a funeral parlor, and concludes in a warehouse "happening" where playful, joyful moments alternate with heartrending ones. The show very loosely follows the crises, deaths and celebrations in an extended family. That's my interpretation anyway, as the material is open enough that viewers can create their own story.
But there's no denying the emotional effect of the material, including the juxtapositions of 50s Hollywood intermission cartoons and eroticism both live and video; surreal visuals in Trinity-Bellwoods Park and a series of ever-shifting sibling portraits; Celtic songs and dances; vaudeville turns and a final choral movement piece.
The text is sometimes opaque, but your gut impressions never are, thanks to a talented cast and an inventive multimedia take on the material.
The result? A haunting and often magical production.