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|Written by Wayne Current|
|Thursday, 14 July 2011 00:00|
Last Friday, July 8th, I set off to Cube Gallery to check out the Glacial Company's production of England. The press release intrigued me. A former Canterbury student (David Bernstein) now studying theatre in New York City has returned to Ottawa for the summer. Unable to get his show into Fringe, he approached the curator of Cube with a script designed to be performed in a gallery. After an audition, curator Don Monet agreed that this would be a good fit and decided to produce this show himself.
Those who have read my blog or other articles I've written for (Cult)ure will be aware that I love when theatre mixes with the other arts (visual, dance, and music). I truly believe the best way for the arts scene to thrive in this community is through these artistic cross-pollinations.
Cube is a great example of the type of space where these pollinations can occur. Rather than being just a place for visual art, Monet has created a venue for theatre and music as well. Talking with the audience post-show revealed that this mix was a success. Many were consumers of visual art who hadn't seen a play in awhile, and there was also a large collection of theatre regulars who do not often step foot into a gallery. Clearly, these kinds of events encourage the growth of audiences for all the arts and tap into new markets.
Tim Crouch has divided his play into two acts. The Glacial Company presented the first half in the foyer of the gallery. Two guides (David Bernstein and Sierra Percy-Beauregard) take us on a tour of Cube. During this tour they reveal personal details about their lives. Bernstein and Percy-Beauregard do some interesting things, while playing with the intimacy of the space (which on opening night was uncomfortably hot). At times, this can be uncomfortable for the audience, but I felt these moments contrasted nicely with the Act 2, which is presented in a more traditional theatre space (with seats and air conditioning). I found myself concentrating more on the second half because of the jarring experience of the first.
Overall, I enjoyed the performances of Bernstein and Percy-Beauregard (two young actors still learning and perfecting their craft); however, I think the company would benefit from the addition of an outside eye of a director to help guide the narrative and tighten up the performances. The first half in particular would have had a greater impact with a little direction to help the cast make stronger theatrical choices. As it stands, it jumps around a little more than necessary, both between Ottawa and England and in its theatrical approach/style.
I always have a good time at events at Cube, and England is no exception. I love when actors and producers take risks and try something new. England certainly does this and for this reason is very much worth seeing. For more information and showtimes, click here.