By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Multiple Organism (Stage 36, L’UniThéâtre)
A lyrical pas de deux between two horny toothbrushes in love isn’t something you’re likely to see any time soon on the country’s mainstages. Who does that?
Which might be reason enough to catch the latest interactive live actor/shadow puppet/live projection mash-up from the imaginative Vancouver duo (Mind of a Snail) who have brought us Caws & Effect and Curious Contagious in summers past. But, although Multiple Organism begins with the question “So, are we ready to see some art?!” you can’t help feeling that Multiple Organism just doesn’t live up to the artfulness of its predecessors.
“Sometimes,” as the MC (a talking naked torso with a pubic hair goatee) explains helpfully, “it’s good to take a closer look at your own shit.” And that’s exactly what this show does, in a journey down a talking toilet through the pipes of a sewage system onto an idyllic beach where the toothbrushes wash up, and have a destination wedding.
It’s playful. The original music is an animated soundscape of jazzy riffs. And nobody uses old-fashioned projection technology with more inventive sophistication than Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel,. The effects range from the raucously jokey — a live actor squeezes out a projected turd that turns out to be a stray toothbrush — to the dreamy, as layers of colours wash across the screen.
But, unlike the grand surreal journeys of past Mind of a Snail shows, this one feels a bit like a variety show, a best-of vaudeville of special effects stitched together. And the interplay between screen and live action, while artfully accomplished, has little resonance in the story.
Mind of a Snail has set the bar high in imaginative storytelling. But this time, the premise — an artist free-associating into inspiration and ending up examining her own shit — turns out to be a little too true.