Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: (Toronto) How to Disappear Completely (SummerWorks)

Completely Disappearing: the Art of Light
by Jason Booker

Normally, saying that the lighting was the best element of the show is a polite code used amongst friends and professionals. Correctly interpreted, it means that little else about the show was worth mentioning. 

In the case of How to Disappear Completely, the lighting is the best element of the show... and that is meant in the best possible way. Itai Erdal, one of the country's best designers, crafts a show out of his design. He explains his choice of instruments and gives tips on what each might mean, how to use them, where to place them, the mood created with different effects. It is a fascinating lecture in what stage lighting can (and should) be, even if it isn't the most innovative storytelling possible with design. Using a portable control panel, Erdal pushes the go button while performing the show.

Yup, Erdal - normally a lighting and set designer - takes the stage as performer here to tell his autobiographical tale. According to the description of this one-man show, the performer is unique and that point seems indisputable. He is a charming but not completely charismatic performer, but Erdal can certainly tell a story. Listen for the one about the manatee. However, the focal point of the piece is the death of his mother due to cancer, a tale of pain and of parenting - both past and future.

The question that springs to mind: does he disappear completely? Well, no. In moments, Erdal does literally vanish though. He talks in the dark sometimes or his heavy reliance on video footage, interviews with his family members and best friend. These videos are almost always not in English, which can be a barrier for audiences. Particularly as he occasionally uses subtitles and uses live translations the rest of the time. However, when he translates over top of the original audio (especially in the interview with himself) it can be difficult to hear the dialogue in either language clearly.

The piece feels meandering (including an amusing but unnecessary rave scene) and had some technical difficulties resulting in a late start. Erdal tries but never quite captivates the audience, leaving a feeling of sadness behind that doesn't resolve during the show. However his expertise in lighting is worth a viewing; it leaves an impression, though it does disappear.

How to Disappear Completely continues until August 18.  

1 comment:

  1. Huh?? It's not about HIM disappearing completely. It's about his MOTHER disappearing completely.


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