Review: THE STRANGER 2.0: Above and Below

by Lynn on September 21, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At a secret location in Toronto, Ont.

Created and directed by Daniele Bartolini

Facilitated by a rotating roster of gifted actors.

A virtual reality scene produced and developed by toaster lab

Initially an interesting engagement in the world of the unknown that was ultimately  challenging and exhilarating and will have you looking at strangers in a different way.

The is revised version of The Stranger that played previously in Toronto, where I didn’t see it so I don’t have anything to compare it with. Suffice to say creator/director Daniele Bartolini continues to challenge and unsettle the participants in their perceptions of their world, strangers, trust, safety, generosity of spirit and humanity. Be it the three day Curious Voyage (where I was first introduced to this inventive man’s brilliant, artistic brain) or  If On A Christmas Night or Leonardo where he created more stories, each different, I have come to expect the totally unexpected from Bartolini’s shows.

With The Stranger 2.0: Above & Below each experience is particular to the participant but we are requested not to give details until after it closes Sept. 29, 2019. Fair enough. I’ll be careful not to give anything away.

You are told where to appear a day before your event. There are ground rules so that you are prepared and know what to expect to a certain extent. You might be outdoors for some of it. If so you are accompanied by a participating ‘actor’. You are not alone in these instances. You might be asked to wait at a bus stop for the next participating actor to come along with new instructions. Some of the experience is indoors and involves  various activities in various rooms.

What I love about Daniele Bartolini’s creations is the trust we willingly give over to the experience. We trust that we will be safe, taken care of but challenged in our perceptions. I loved waiting by a bus stop and looking around to figure out who might be the next ‘stranger’ I would be encountering. Is it that young woman in the bus shelter? Is it that woman over by the wall listening to her MP3? The bus came, I moved way from the bus stop to see who got on the bus. The one who didn’t was my next stranger.

Along with the trust is my willingness to do things in public or even alone in a room that ordinarily I wouldn’t do. I leave shyness and reticence in the parking lot. I am not asked to do anything humiliating or embarrassing. I’m expected to leave inhibitions elsewhere. At every turn I am asked certain things and I can refuse if I want. I was asked by one of my ‘strangers’ if she could touch me (a shoulder, an arm etc.) and I said yes. If there is something I could not or would not do then an accommodation was made. There was a scene involving virtual reality. That was wild, certainly since I’d never experienced that before.

I think most of all since I participated in The Stranger 2.0: Above & Below and any Bartolini experience for that matter, I appreciate that I do look at the world around me and the people more and in a different way: how they walk, interact, are perceived and wonder if they might be my next stranger. Terrific experience. I await Daniele Bartolini’s next creation.

Presented by DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT)

Closes: Sept. 29, 2019.

Running Time: 90 minutes, approx.

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