Optimistically Cautious

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

New Works Festival 2007

After dinner, Dickson and I headed to the Second Playing Space in the Timms Centre for the New Works Festival, an event that features various student-created productions.

The first show we watched, Flap, tells the story of a young couple who unite over their quest to save a dying bird. Dickson sarcastically commented afterwards that he was "fascinated," and I'd have to agree with that description for the most part. It was a linguistically-weak play, almost too colloquial, and phrases meant to be "cute" came off as tired (e.g. the "Good Grief"/Charlie Brown connection). Moreover, the pacing was uneven, and without proper transitions between the scenes (via dialogue or physical space), the blocking appeared rough and counterproductive. Most egregious, however, was the overly transparent theme. The ‘caged animal’ repetition was tiresome, and seemed in many respects like a writer's exercise in moving from a literal wing flap to a verbal tussle to the female lead's relationship-ending flight for freedom. In all, it was a decidedly amateur production.

The second show of the night was light years ahead by comparison. Employing a Greek chorus, cheeky musical interludes, and two charismatic leads, Skewed Logic presents the story of Stu, womanizer extraordinaire. Like The Game meets Euripides, this was a wonderful experiment in theatre. Beginning with Stu's delineation of the "5 types of girls" (if you were wondering, they are: cute, hot, cool, attractive, and beautiful, with a "secret sixth untouchable" category), the show started off light, fun, and relatable to the mainly 20-something audience. From there, the plot escalated in intensity, and by the end, resulted in Stu’s tragic death at the hands of his best friend. Unexpected but thought provoking, it was an undoubtedly whirlwind play. I was thoroughly impressed by the director's use of space, as she fully exploited the thrust stage and all potential entrance and exit points to her advantage. That said, there was one part of the play that Dickson enjoyed, but made me rather uncomfortable - Stu and his psycho ex-girlfriend's simulated sex scene, complete with both actors in their underwear. While I can understand the need for the audience to appreciate the level of betrayal Stu was capable of, I still believe it was gratuitous and unnecessary. But despite that blemish, I was still floored by the complexity and creativity of Skewed Logic. The playwright, Vincent Forcier, has a bright future ahead of him!

With Festival passes going for just $5, it's an inexpensive opportunity to support young artists and be entertained - I encourage you to check it out!

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