Three’s company

The latest Vogt studio series installment strings together a three-act series with professionalism and thought-provoking perspective

Atmosphere combines beautiful choreography and costume.
Atmosphere combines beautiful choreography and costume.

How does one go about making a three-tiered theatre sandwich?

You start off with a witty, pop culture homage, add one substantial helping of environmental commentary through dance and finish with a side-splitting tale of two dysfunctional, baby-craving sisters.

On Wednesday night, the Vogt Studio series presented Vogt B’s “Three Short Shows” and the dress rehearsal’s audience couldn’t get enough. The entirely student-directed and -written one-act plays were short, sweet and entertaining as hell.

The first slice of drama, The Tarantino Variation, was a comic tribute to one of pop culture’s most darkly cool contributors. In a twist on Tarantino style, three trained killers, dressed to kill, find they just don’t have the guts to. The standoff between these three characters was priceless and painfully awkward. Yet, this mixed tension kept the audience on the edge of their seats. The most notable performance was by Murray Adamson, the shaky loose cannon with a heart of gold. Mix three hapless assassins with plastic guns, potty humour, a Burger King reference and inopportune politesse and you’ve got a great little piece.

Atmosphere, directed by Jacqueline Andrade, was the welcome incongruity of the three pieces. The inspired emphasis on the natural world and our connection to it was beautifully expressed by ethereal music choices, complex costuming and impressive choreography. Laid over projected wilderness images, the five actors-slash-nymphs writhed and downward-dogged into the audience’s hearts.

The interaction and synchronicity between the five natural elements—fire, earth, water, air and “tree”—was particularly impressive and made for an aesthetic experience in itself. Harkening back to an almost interpretive dance feel, the fluidity of the actor’s exchanges and contortions were really a sight to be seen.

Although it was the longest piece and, at times, a tad indulgent, Atmosphere was creative to the core despite the white masks and bedsheet dancing.

The standout piece of the evening, though, was Lilith and Eve, the tale of two sisters seeking to satisfy their maternal desires by perusing the Internet for suitable men and pimping each other out, albeit unwillingly, for the cause.

These two dowdy, traditional ninnies were portrayed by Anna Burkholder as the overbearing, expressive Lilith and the fabulous Talia Acker as the hysterical bachelorette for the evening Eve.

Without giving away too much, I have to say Acker’s penchant for deadpan delivery and reflection of every well-meaning cat lady out there was, by far, the best acting performance of the evening. She articulated the stereotypical anxieties of middle-aged women: the shame of an overdue library book, the unwarranted obsession with animals from her youth and the fear of “unused eggs.”

The fabulous scripting of sisters Talia and Maya Acker made even real life seem painfully funny. From Lilith’s seriously flawed dating advice (“Be as nice and as normal as possible so the man will sleep with you”) to poking holes in the night’s contraception, normal as possible so the man will sleep with you”) to poking holes in the night’s contraception, there was never an awkward-free moment but the exchanges were still extremely heartfelt.

From a sound perspective, the music choices for the night were spot on. “Three Cool Cats” was an excellent, jazz-filled choice for the night’s intro, while Imogen Heap imparted her necessary emotional depth and auto-tune to the heavier content of the middle piece.

Transitions were seamless. The ambiance and lighting were polished, giving Vogt B a professional air.

The Vogt Series’ mandate of exploring new themes and creative uses of media and staging was undoubtedly fulfilled in Wednesday night’s performance. The three stories were effortlessly combined into an entertaining, thought-provoking and touching combination of acts.

This feast of anecdotes will hopefully have you coming for firsts and even seconds. Help yourself! This little gem runs until Saturday.

Vogt B runs in Carruthers Hall tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $4.

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