(photo: Matthew Fournier, Corinne Beve)
A Play Without Characters or Dialogue
by Aleksandra Koplik
Ivan Viripaev's Oxygène (Kislorod) is a piece divided into biblical commandments; discussions that reflect society, politics, culture and the morals of love. These discussions are at times comically developed by two actors on the stage - a woman dressed as a bride (Eve Pressault) and a groom (Eric Robidoux). The audience sits in a white tent, at round tables that seat at least six people. The air is romantic, the centrepieces lovely. When we see the bride and groom, it is understood that you are at a wedding reception. There are no characters, they are simply there to provoke the audience and to encourage their thought process, through body language and repetition (there were certain gestures associated with different words throughout the play).
They discuss different situations in the lives of ordinary people, those from the city and those from the countryside, their actions and what seems important to them at some point in time. All of this happens to the sound of techno music and the lighting reflects a night lifestyle.
The setting is very Russian, they talk about alcoholism and deaths by vodka, the disintegrating culture in the countryside, injustice and the supposed democratic government. I must mention that the context and language is hard to understand if you do not understand the language it was written in. It was no trouble for me. However I did see my friend frowning at her empty wine glass at some point in the play, because it is difficult to follow. The director (Christian Lapointe) simply didn't succeed in the fusion of the original play and the adaptation/translation.
Though this work is a controversial social commentary and a political/religious critique, it speaks to different people in various ways. We breathe in what we sow. Our conscience (or the lack of) is like Oxygen. On a social scale, nothing matters - until it concerns you.
Oxygène runs Nov. 19-Dec. 14
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