Micro-Theatre at The Cultch

Micro-Theatre at The Cultch

The MicroTheatre Series :
At The Cultch (1895 Venables)
1 to 6 Feb, 2010

1) Etiquette - A Rotozaza production (UK)
2) You & The Moon - The Only Animal (Vancouver, BC)
I3) Intimate History - An Untied Artists production (UK)

Vancouver, BC:  Three cheers for the new Wine Bar  at The Cultch. The Olympic road-closures are at the stage where part of Pacific Boulevard and both the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are closed to traffic so to get from my place anywhere involves ferreting out new routes.  To make sure we were in time for our Micro-Theatre adventure, we set off early along the E. Hastings route to Commercial. Although until just beyond Main Street traffic moved at a snail's pace, after that the pace picked up and we were actually at The Cultch with a good half an hour to spare after collecting our tickets. So we settled down comfortably in the Wine Bar to enjoy a glass of wine while we waited to be called for our show.

A Rotozaza production (UK)
This is a 30 minute piece for two participants, written by Anthony Hamptom and Silvia Mercuriali.  We were seated at a table in the wine bar. On one side of the table is a series of props; two tiny figures - a man and a woman, a tiny tree and house, cards, a pen, a blob of white Blu-Tack  putty,  a bottle with a stopper filled with "blood".  On the opposite side of the table there are two glasses of water and earphones. After the props are pointed out we are asked to put on our earphones and just follow the instructions.

Repeating what I am told to say, I begin a conversation with my companion seated opposite me.  Soon we find ourselves in the end scene from Ibsen's "A Doll's House", the figurines serving as Nora and Torvald. The scene ends and we are suddenly firing half sentences back and forth at each other. I instead of going with the flow I find myself trying to recognise the dialogue. Later we discuss it  - from Pinter? Mamet? or just Pinteresque. I wonder if you can say Mametesque?  it doesn't have the same ring somehow.

As the piece progresses our guide voices lead us through a story involving a rain shower, a murder, blood, a corpse and secret notes. All too soon the half hour is over. We lay down our earphones and move away from the table back to our half finished glasses of wine. I am not sure what to make of it all. Certainly another unusual experience and not all at what I had expected.  We were just settling to finish the wine and have  a discussion about the piece when it was time for me to go to my next event.

You & The Moon
The Only Animal (Vancouver, BC)
Written and directed by Kendra Fanconi
For this 7 minute piece created for an audience of one person, I was on slightly more familiar ground having experienced it at Hive 2 a year and a half ago. Still the disorientation as I was blind-folded to be led into the Green Room, was as uncomfortable as I remembered it from before. Again you are guided through this adventure by a voice speaking through the headphones. A microscope on a desk, a book with images projected onto it, and your guide, lead you up to the ultimate surprise ending!

Intimate History
An Untied Artists production (UK)
Written by Craig Stephens and Jake Oldershaw; Composed and played live by Derek Nisbet
For me this 10 minute piece for  an audience of 1 was the highlight of the evening. As I waited to be taken into the playing space of the Vancity Culture Lab, I was asked to choose 1 story from a menu  of six story/songs which would be sung or narrated by Jake Oldershaw to the piano playing of Derek Nisbet. I chose To be King (Was Once my Dream) - described as a love story where you "become the object of a poor fisherman's affections and act out a love story from optimistic beginning to heart breaking end." Seated on a pillow I heard the song of the fisherman begin, and then was directed to lie with my head on his chest as he sang more of the tale.  Then we danced in "the moonlight"  until the inevitable end of the story when the fisherman and his love had to part.  I found this a magical experience. I loved the piano, loved the moonlight dance - althoughat one time it was a tango rhtyhm but no chance to tango! The intimacy of audience and performer which was quite disconcerting in the previous piece, felt easy and comfortable. Jake Oldershaw is an accomplished troubadour who weaves an exquisite spell with his song. I wished I had got tickets to see the other stories.