Something completely different

Latest Vogt series kicks off with its weakest play, but gets better, and more bizarre, as it goes on

Awaiting Fantasy humourously questions the nature of theatre.
Awaiting Fantasy humourously questions the nature of theatre.
Credit: 
Quinn Richardson

Theatre Review: Vogt C @ Carruthers Hall, until March 17

With the year’s third and final instalment of the Vogt Studio Series, the student-run program has
abandoned any pretense of clarity for the perplexingly bizarre. With three pieces ranging from a Samuel Beckett reproduction to a studentconceived sound spectacle, Vogt C is worth the trip for the sheer novelty of the experience.

The showcase begins with its weakest link: Samuel Beckett’s Footfalls, directed by Mary Margaret McRae. One of Beckett’s best-known shorter plays, Footfalls is a text that demands a somewhat restrained treatment—any production should emphasize the hypnotic sound of May’s Footfalls, as does this one, though the play never demands the tediously repetitive treatment it receives here.

May, wrapped in linens that could have been worn by Jesus himself, converses with her mother, Voice, while pacing an illuminated path in obsessive and repetitive patterns. Voice, sitting directly behind her daughter and wearing the constrictive wardrobe of a mid- 1900s country wife, appears to be in control of the situation while slowly trading line fragments with her daughter.

Rather than slowing the pacing of May’s Footfalls, and the production itself, McRae solely represents the recession of May’s personality and independence through gradually dimming the lights. There is no progressive subjugation of May’s character (until she disappears in the final part), there is no escalating rigidity or dramatic pauses, and the actors lack any clear transformation into symbiotic nonexistence. In this Queen’s production, the direction seems to have been monotone, monotone, monotone. For something completely different, Vogt C then slides into Doug Brown’s experimental sound piece, Hello, Hi How Are You. If you narrowly define “theatre” as a dramatic performance of some sort, this certainly doesn’t fit the mould. However, it has the capacity to evoke similar emotions to a dramatic performance, entertain an audience and develop characters.

An entirely auditory experience consisting of a darkened room and surround sound, the work may have been better suited for a multimedia art exhibit. Built on a greeting and answering machine motif, Brown’s piece combines a familiar female voice (who issues greetings and randomly counts numbers), eclectic musical rhythms and the ambient sounds of life. He frequently experiments with the direction and volume of the audio, throwing keyboard sounds at the audience from one angle in one instant, subtle electronic beats from another angle the next.

Brown’s spasmodic piece scatters your attention, but the production is still captivating and intriguing.
Last in the trio is the studentwritten production Awaiting Fantasy.

Written by Matt Donovan and directed by Andrea Bodnar, the piece critiques and attempts to redefine the nature of theatre. Beginning with the sluggish introduction of a geriatric female— literally covered from head to toe in pounds of baby powder— Awaiting Fantasy cleverly slides from humour to profundity while the piece interrogates ideas about audience and performance. A second character encounters his reflection, initially meant to be his literal mirror reflection but is represented by an actor instead.

They exchange self-revelations while the grandmother anticipates an upcoming theatre performance. Awaiting Fantasy’s only flaw is its lack of focus—Bodnar doesn’t seem able to decide if she’s examining character or the whole of theatre. Yet the scattered emphasis is a minor problem overcome elsewhere in the production by its skillful hanges in mood and tone.

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Vogt C runs today at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Admission is $4 on Friday and $5 on Saturday.

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