Sometimes the line between theatre and art can be a bit blurry. Leaky Heaven all but erases that line in der Wink.
Seated inside an uncomfortably hot Russian Hall, chairs are arranged with a few feet between them. Rather than facing a “stage” the chairs face multiple directions, but with a certain symmetry in their arrangement. As the show progresses, large cardboard panels are slid into place, some with windows cut-out, some without. Small snippets of action take place in and around the audience, usually within a defined space that has been created with the cardboard panels.
By design, we are not privy to the entire scenes, only being allowed a glimpse or a moment in a larger narrative: a man encounters a woman in the men’s washroom; lovers appear to have a quarrel; a man talks on his cellphone to an unknown person about someone in the backyard; a man throws bottles at something.
With art, the viewer has an opportunity to come at it from different perspectives or simply make the decision to move on if something doesn’t resonate. Here we are forced into seeing the art (or not seeing as the case may be) based on the placement of cardboard walls. At times actors speak directly to individual audience members. Entire scenes are hidden; at one point a wall was erected directly in front of my chair making it impossible to see one extended scene which was made even more difficult by not being able to hear the actors.
A moody atmosphere created by scenographer Parjad Sharifi, architect Jesse Garlick and sound designer Nancy Tam is intriguing, but can only take a production so far.
In his program notes director Steven Hill speaks of der Wink as meaning a hint of the divine in the mundane. Unfortunately, that divine eluded me completely, but based on some of the opening night reactions there must be an audience that can appreciate der Wink. I just happen to prefer Monet to Von Gogh.
Devised by members of Leaky Heaven. Directed by Steven Hill. A Leaky Heaven production. On stage at the Russian Hall through August 4, 2013. Visit http://www.leakyheaven.ca for tickets and information.