First I need to tell you that Betroffenheit has one more performance in Edmonton, this afternoon at 2, and it is not quite sold out. Yet.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the first performance of this short local run on Friday – Good Friday, which was somewhat fitting. As the Citadel Theatre Beyond the Stage series and the Brian Webb Dance Company joined forces to bring this Kidd Pivot/Electric Company Theatre (Vancouver) production to town, it is performed in the large auditorium of the Shoctor Theatre rather than the smaller space of the Timms Centre (like the other BWDC shows) or the Citadel Cabaret.
It is weird, disturbing, and very compelling. Program notes and other media articles provide a little background – that the piece is a response to playwright Jonathon Young’s horrific story of personal losses. Choreography and direction were provided by Crystal Pite. As I am more comfortable with conventional narrative in words, I kept wishing for explicit exposition, but the performance demonstrated the nightmarish and unnamable qualities of the main character (Jonathon Young)’s tormented responses with flashing repetition of cryptic voiceover, oppressive set, sound, and lighting (Jay Gower Taylor, Owen Belton/Alessandro Juliani/Meg Roe, and Tom Visser), and a creepy vaudeville revue by supporting ensemble Christopher Hernandez, David Raymond, Cindy Salgado, Jermaine Spivey, and Tiffany Tregarthen. About two-thirds of the way through the performance, the stark dingy-industrial room trapping the protagonist appears to collapse, and after intermission the piece resumes as a somewhat more conventional modern-dance exploration of grief and support, with the performers now dressed in simple grey workout clothing.