Reviews: The RISER Project: Mr. Truth and Tell Me What It’s Called.

by Lynn on April 24, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

Alas a bit behind with this.

At the Theatre Centre, Toronto, Ont.

The RISER Project is a terrific initiative of Why Not Theatre that has created a unique collaborative producing model for merging and independent theatre artists.

From the press release: “Developed to help address the challenges of producing indie theatre in Toronto, the RISER Project brings together a community of senior leadership and emerging artists to support the artistic risk that independent artists must take in order to create and innovate. The RISER producing model is designed to maximize existing infrastructures by sharing resources, rise, and commitment to reduce the producing burden on indie artists, especially the high cost of production and the difficulty of building audiences.”

This is the fifth edition of RISER. From April 15 to May 12 the RISER PROJECT 2018 will consist of three world premieres and one workshop presentation of new Canadian work.

The first two pieces are: Mr. Truth (April 17-24, 2018) and Tell Me What It’s Called (April 17-24, 2018).

Mr. Truth

Created and performed by Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton

It’s described as “an off-the-beaten-sketch-comedy-path parody.” From the press release: “In a series of nightmarish vignettes, a demon-like entity forces people to confront the repression of their erotic truths in spectacularly painful ways. A grotesque orgasmic hallucination, Mr. Truth offers a satisfyingly uncomfortable dose of the primal, the lurid, and the bizarre.”

The reason I quote the press release so much with Mr. Truth is because I found the piece incomprehensible in its intention and the only discomfort I experienced was intense boredom when the point evaporated in self-indulgence. “…confront the repression of their erotic truths in spectacularly painful ways.” What does that even mean?

The piece is not tightly written, not clearly formulated or well performed. I found Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton awkward, not assured or convincing. The piece needs more rigour in clearly defining its point. And a parody? No.

Runs to April 24.

Tell Me What It’s Called

A collective creation by Ximena Huizi (who directs it) and various colleagues

The collective explores vulnerability in its many guises using movement, dance, games and text. The group of eight are already in the room as the audience fills in. They warm-up with a series of exercises, games-playing, songs and reflexive movement. These activities would not be out of place in a rehearsal hall so the audience is privy to this usually private process.

When the show proper begins, Ximena Huizi explains some of the aspects of the creation. The group shifts from section to section seamlessly. There are exercises of trust, moments when the group assume the identities of insects or archetypes, sing and dance.

While this is a work in process it is clear that the preparation has been meticulous, detailed, deeply thought, playful and totally joyful.

I look forward to the next incarnation.

Runs to April 24.

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