Friday, February 15, 2013

Multi-Media, February 15, 2013

Step Up Time
C'est La Vie presents its new podcast
by Dave Ross

Indefinitely is C’est La Vie Theatre’s latest entry into the podcast theatre series. Written by Tabia Lau, the play is simple, telling the story of Claire and Charlie, siblings who share one last night together before Charlie, the older of the two, moves away to London to start his graduate school education. 

Radio theatre is extremely challenging to execute. I remember listening to radio plays on the CBC with my father when I was child, and how I would close my eyes and enter the world, be it a café, a street, a living room, or whatever setting was being portrayed. I listened to Indefinitely twice, and closed my eyes on the second attempt… but found myself more interested in the sounds of a snow plow clearing the sidewalk outside my window. Indefinitely simply doesn’t create the atmosphere that one can enter into, and the tension that should be present between the actors is almost non-existent. 

The final blow to the performance that left me flabbergasted were spoken stage directions.

Lau’s script grates heavily on the listener. It relies too heavily on every after-school special and mid-nineties sitcom one could possibly think of. Brother Charlie is visiting sister Claire on his last night before moving away. They argue about how he grew up and stopped talking to her, how she borrowed his suspenders without asking but he forgot he had them so she can keep them anyways, and then a guilt-ridden conversation after Charlie announces he’s Gay. Claire, in the space of about two minutes, goes from screaming at Charlie about how she wasn’t ready, to her saying it’s ok if he’s Gay. Lau’s script contains no surprises, allowing the listener to predict the story within the first few minutes. Claire, played by Jasper Lim, is not believable in her role. Her characterization is thin, and while Claire goes through turmoil I found myself struggling to care. Contrastingly, Michael Ruderman executes Charlie with more depth, from the joshing-older-brother role to the advice-dispensing-brother role. The final blow to the performance that left me flabbergasted were spoken stage directions. Perhaps they are necessary at points (though I can’t recall any in anything I’ve heard before), but even more flabbergasting was upon Charlie leaving Claire’s room, a voice announces “Charlie exits.” Throughout the play, both Charlie and Claire enter and leave the room with foley effects. Why this sudden reversion to spoken stage directions? Indefinitely suffers from a script that packs too much content into its 20 minute length, a compression of time that seems impossible, and mediocre performance.

C’est La Vie Theatre has taken on a challenge in mounting podcasted plays. Indefinitely smacks of something recorded in mom’s basement, without much thought put into the need to create the atmosphere. This is an inventive medium, but it comes with its own set of unique challenges, and I very much hope that C’est La Vie realizes these challenges and steps up their game to meet them. 

Indefinitely is available at the company website and iTunes.

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