inertia [phase two] presented by the OOmph!! Group (Chad Dembski, Natasha Priest, Michelle Polak, Erika Hennebury and Sean MacMahon) at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). Runs to April 14, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15, Sunday pwyc. 416-538-9401. Rating: NNN
despite the title, there's little that's artistically inert in inertia [phase two], the proudly experimental performance piece by the OOmph!! Group.Loosely inspired by Chekhov's Three Sisters and Sartre's No Exit, the show very actively examines the inner and outer lives of three nurses attending a single male patient who's seemingly trapped in a desolate hospital.
The play eschews narrative for a series of whimsical, absurdist set pieces, and director Chad Dembski uses pretaped video sequences, live feed, film and even a bit of karaoke to reveal character and plot, such as it is.
The work is less about story than it is about mood and feeling. These are nicely supported by Peter Rietzel's set, which is dominated by yards of transparent plastic sheeting that evokes the ghostly sterility of a hospital while allowing us glimpses into psychological shadows.
Sound, too, is a key element, from the opening aural chaos and the quiet, anticipatory snap of clinical rubber gloves to haunting musical motifs by Bach, Satie, Chris Isaak and the original music of Lyon Smith.
If there's a precious feel to the piece -- and knowledge of the Chekhov and Sartre do help -- the work still hums with life, due largely to the design and the focused actors, especially Michelle Polak, Erika Hennebury and Natasha Priest as the very different sister-nurses.