by Lynn on October 8, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Factory Studio Theatre, part of the RUTAS Festival, playing until Oct. 8, 2022.

Creator/performer, Claren Grosz

Director, William Dao

Projectionists/collaborators: Elyse Waugh

Stephanie Zeit

Jesse Wabegijig

Sound designer and composer, Christopher-Elizabeth

Set by Echo Zhou

Stylist, Ami Blaxland

Collaborator, Emily Jung

In I Love the Smell of Gasoline, theatre artist Claren Grosz has written a bristling one-person show, bursting with passion, information and concern about the world and the environment. The little blurb in the program just scratches the surface of what she covers:

In I Love the Smell of Gasoline, Claren attempts to reconcile her Alberta oil-industry roots with the current environmental emergency. The project was born of a frustration with divisive Canadian politics, rampant hypocrisy, and a lack of team spirit when facing impending doom. It unpacks some of the forces that drive global warming and Western alienation in a person account of what it is to live in a modern, capitalist environment, be a self-serving organism, and also care about the earth and fellow creature kind.”

Claren Grosz’s production is complex and tech-heavy with three projectionists/collaborators working seamlessly to project images, formulae, models, miniature figurines frequently at the same time. It can appear messy but that is the beauty of the RUTAS festival, dedicated to bring art from across the Americas and beyond—to encounter new perspectives, voices and ideas, and to engage in conversations about art and human rights.” The festival does bring disparate voices to be heard and listened to. Claren Grosz’s voice is quiet, resounding and clear.

She impishly says that many people have told her that there are too many numbers in her show. Claren Grosz explains that she is a math tudor. She teaches grade 11 students. Numbers are in her fingers. She’s not going to cut down on the numbers if they prove a point.

I Love the Smell of Gasoline references geology, history, anthropology, prehistoric history, the environment, her hometown of Calgary, the gas and oil industry and how her family has deep roots in it, and she brings a perspective that acknowledges many different points of view. This is not a polemic. She sees many sides to the story and she introduces them.

She is particularly close to her family, especially her father who was a surveyor until he retired. At one point she says that he became seriously ill with cancer and needed an operation but that was cancelled because of the pandemic. One hopes he’s ok. She doesn’t say. The play is full of personal comments and conversations with her friends, the various partners she’s had, her family. It’s a deeply personal, passionate exploration of what is going on in our world. Very worth a look in this very short run.

RUTAS Festival presents:

Runs to: Oct. 8 at 8:30 pm

Running Time: 75 minutes.

Leave a Comment