Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Theatre) Me Talking to Myself in the Future

(photo: Frédéric Auger)

Of Two Minds
by Ramya Jegatheesan

If there’s one word I would use to describe this play, it’s psychedelic. This is bad news if you’re sober. 

Marie Brassard’s Me Talking to Myself in the Future is an invitation into Brassard’s inner consciousness. This journey is imagined and realized through atmospheric music created by musicians seated on-stage (one of them really should turn down his screen light) and a towering screen projecting 16mm video footage reminiscent of 1960s art house films. Brassard speaks in lulling hypnotic tones as she spins her tales. 

I was of two minds about this performance piece. 

The program description primes us to expect a profound and unsettling experience. 

And the opening visual was both unsettling and promising. We watch Brassard’s larger- than-life shadow loom on screen as her recitation begins. But her words fall flat. She is acting profound, but her words are too often just strings of clichés. 

My sober mind rebels and thinks just because you speak in long lumbering monotones it does not mean you are profound. Another part of me thinks I could really enjoy this if I took some hallucinogenic drugs. This production seems built for just such a mind-bending experience. But it is neither trippy nor unsettling enough whether you are cold sober or out of your tree. 

The script is too wordy and nonsensical, and 60 minutes is too long for a slow experiential piece like this. Brassard at one point unplugs from her world to tell us “I’m telling a story that makes no sense.” This is fine if only Brassard could pull us into her imagined inner universe, or somehow reach into ours, but she succeeds at neither. Her world is too confusing and ephemeral for us to surrender to. It’s an indulgent stream of consciousness that is more isolating and vacant than intimate. 

The one moment I felt the pull of Brassard’s voice was when she began singing in French. Then the words didn’t matter. It was experiential; I felt something. I wonder how much more I could have been pulled into this performance if I had my eyes closed for its duration. 

March 26 - April 6

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