LENZ created and performed by bluemouth inc. at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen West). Runs to October 27, Thursday-Sunday 8 pm. $15. 416-538-0988. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Too often, multidisciplinary performance is experimental but soulless. In stark and bloody contrast, Lenz has a dramatic heart throbbing at its centre.Created by the always fascinating bluemouth inc., the site-specific show has viewers visit three hotel rooms to learn the story of Lenz (Stephen O'Connell), his sister Iris (Sabrina Reeves) and Pierre Riviere (Christopher Taylor Wright), the latter at first a shadowy player in the tale. Murder, a blurring of internal and external realities and the quest for connection with other people make up various strands of the plot.
Well, plot might not be quite the word. Viewers see the three segments of the show in random order, depending on the hotel room key they draw, and it's left to each audience member to piece together an account that makes sense. What the production achieves splendidly is giving the whole event an emotional arc, even if the narrative arc is occasionally unclear.
Writers O'Connell and Reeves bring the kind of in-your-face intensity (that's an intentional acting style, since they work in close proximity to the audience) that never rings false, while Richard Windeyer's soundscape enhances the chilling quality of the text. Wed beautifully to its setting, touching uncomfortable feelings that people usually ignore, Lenz is scary, heightened theatre.
And I mean that as a compliment.