Review: CAGE

by Lynn on March 23, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, Ont.

Created and performed by Diego Matamoros, Richard Feren, Lorenzo Savoini
Sound by Richard Feren
Production designed by Lorenzo Savoini
Choreographed by Shannon Litzengerger

Cage is part of the Soulpepper Solo Series, along with Crawlspace, Crash and I’m doing This For You.

From the website: Cage “inspired by apes, Zen Buddhism, and the ideas of avant-garde composer (philosopher) John Cage, this experimental mediation on time, space, memory, and the human animal, is performed by Soulpepper Founding Member Diego Matamoros and co-created with designers Lorenzo Savoini and Richard Feren.”

From the program note by Lorenzo Savoini: “Our goal was to create something that was the result of chance encounters between various disciplines that would be governed by a structure with all three of us active performers (thought to different degrees). Space themes, objects, text, performance, lighting, video projection and sound were all equal participants intersecting and juxtaposing one another as they created an abstract collage of experience.”

The audience sits on four sides of the playing area. The space is lined with electronic equipment, computers, microphones, a table with a kettle and four small glasses on it; another table with a various noise making things plus a bowl of ping-pong balls. Etc. in the middle of the space is an eight-foot glass cubicle. Projections will appear on the four walls behind the audience over the course of the play.

A projection indicates we are in a time at the end of language. First darkness, then lights flicker, then more effects. This goes on for some time, perhaps 4 minutes and 33 seconds (a time frame that is important to the work of John Cage—yippee for Wikipedia)–but Cage is really not referenced until the end). It’s interesting watching, pondering and experiencing the creative imagination of the creators of the show, certainly in this segment. If anything the whole show and the performers are ‘caged’ by time. Held captive by it.

The stage manager, Arwen MacDonell, Richard Feren and Lorenzo Savoini enter. Feren begins by using various objects to make noise. A large projection appears on the walls noting the times that each scene lasts. Feren checks this carefully. He bounces ping-pong balls; he twirls a tube to make a noise; he rattles something for another noise.

When Diego Matamoros appears, barefoot in a cream coloured suit and no shirt, he carefully walks amongst the ping-pong balls on the floor. A projection of a gorilla? An ape? appears on the walls. Matamoros walks around the cube and begins telling a story about being six and the son of a diplomat and his wife. The story changes and varies as he walks around the cube. He enters the cube and Matamoros assumes the physicality and expressions of an ape. He gyrates on the floor like an ape. He swings from a beam. Quite impressive. Only at the end is there a quote projected on the wall referencing John Cage, about being free, mediation I believe, and freeing oneself to experience things to the fullest. The creators also reference Zen Buddhism.

The creators want us to experience the happening of the show. So when the performers all leave the stage, after waiting 4:33 minutes of drinking tea, waiting, meditating, the audience can experience the confusion of wondering if it’s over or not. And to applaud or not. And to leave.

They can also consider Cage to be an intriguing experience seeing how the creators thought and what components to include and where and when. Or they can consider Cage to be pretentious twaddle.

Soulpepper Presents:

Opened: March 21, 2017.
Closes: March 25, 2017.
Running Time: 65 minutes.

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