Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: The Touring Test (Winnipeg Fringe)

by Nanette Soucy

This scientific experiment to determine the effectiveness of beings designed, as we all are, to elicit an emotional response, is conducted by Dr. Anya Sheinpflugova (Stefanie Wiens) with perhaps… unconventional methods. We’re told that one of the actors on stage is a robot. At the end of each performance, the audience is polled via secret ballot, as to which one. The cast tours city to city under strictly controlled directives, and are forbidden contact with “the outside” and fraternization among each other over the course of the experiment. This leads, of course, to acute cases of the all-familiar iPhone withdrawal and distracting dressing room romances endemic of almost every rehearsal and performance process, even without the strict experimental controls.

The Touring Test brings us all the necessary elements to tickle your sci-fi geek bone; Robot attacks, introverted nerds with poor social skills, and scenes clipped from vintage sci-fi theatre. It will also float your theatre-geek boat with its tongue-in-cheek cracks on artistic life, the cheapness of theatre actors, and the dreaded “It was… Interesting” post-performance note. This multi-generational cast is on point, offering a flawless performance of this witty and engaging script, even handling the collapse of a major set piece with such grace as to make me wonder whether or not the malfunction was part of the show.


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