The press material for ITSAZOO and Enlightenment Theatre’s Bridge Mix tells us the title refers to “bridging communities”. For me though it is more relatable to the boxed candy of the same name – an assortment of theatre shorts where individual pieces might not always be to your taste, but combined it makes for a satisfying treat of unique site-specific theatre.
Following the success of last year’s Bridge Mix, producers chose to return to the same Metro Parkade as a challenge to the nine participating companies to create something new in a venue that had already been used. Taking the parkade as their inspiration, each theatre company created an original piece of about ten minutes in length.
While not everything works, and at times the groups fight against the poor acoustics of the parkade, pushing the boundaries of how we view theatre helps make this Bridge Mix more tasty than not.
Here is my take on each of the nine performances:
Catch 22 (Enlightment Theatre)
Ryan Hauser and David Benedict Brown set the comedic tone for much of the evening as they play at bank robbers looking to escape the hospital they find themselves in after a heist goes wrong. Wheelchairs, bananas (because they’re funny) and a twist ending make this quirky bit a highlight. I could have done without the acknowledgement of the audience though.
Zom Rom Com (Spectral Theatre)
An abandoned parking garage is the perfect location for a short about zombies. It is at its best as the two survivors argue about their connection to one of the zombies. Unfortunately it felt as if playwright Chris Schonfeldt didn’t quite know how to end it all. Just like the problem with zombies, I suppose.
Parked: An Indie Rock Musical with Novelty Instruments (Delinquent Theatre)
Another of the evening’s highlights, Delinquent Theatre gives us a musical short beginning with the laugh-out-loud funny “Where is My F*cking Car?”. A 9 to 5 inspired bit about killing one’s boss is followed by a sweet duet about a budding office romance. And they are right, some things are better with a ukulele.
Tigermilk Collective (Tigermilk Collective)
A documentary short projected on one of the parkade’s walls tells us of a protest to save that very parkade from being torn down, perhaps for another sushi restaurant. I was disappointed the artefacts left behind in the garage were not directly attributed to what we saw in the film. The funniest bit was watching some of the audience actually signing the petition to save the parkade. By the time the protestors give up I was hoping for the zombies to make a sudden reappearance and explain the missing gate attendant.
Completely Centered (Slam Ink)
Keira Daniels and Kyle Sutherland give us a funny bit as ex-lovers holding certain personal items hostage and making the trade in the parkade. They had me until they included the audience.
Exhibit A (411)
One of the few serious shorts, this one used the death of Victoria teen Kimberly Proctor as its backdrop. Performers Melanie Moore and James Avramenko were at their best as they took on the text from the murder trial transcripts. Definitely thought-provoking and one of the few that I felt cheated by its ten minutes.
Gang! Bang! (Monster Creative)
These women are fierce. A kind of Clockwork Orange meets a female version of West Side Story’s Jets. It had a certain frenzied appeal but little residual impression. I’m just glad I got my hat back in one piece.
Lifeline (ITSAZOO Productions)
Easily the best of the night but not surprising since this type of site-specific theatre is a trademark for this company. We hear Sebastien Archibald’s thoughts as he ultimately regrets his choice of location to die. Colby Wilson, as the uninterested friend he reaches out to in his dying moments, appears on film projected on one of the rooftop’s walls. In those few short moments I actually found myself feeling sorry for Archibald and hating Wilson; all with no back story to help understand the why.
Geronimo (Genus Theatre)
A bumbling SWAT team extracts a bad guy from among the audience. Only this SWAT team has TWAT written on their black jumpsuits. And they moon us. Following Lifeline, this final piece felt doubly sophomoric.
An ITSAZOO Productions and Enlightenment Theatre presentation. On stage at the Metro Parkade on West Pender Street through June 25, 2011. Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets. Visit http://www.itsazoo.org or http://www.enlightenmenttheatre.com for more information.