James Ryan Gobuty
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents Infrarouge Production’s Me Talking to Myself in the Future, an innovative masterpiece by Canadian treasure Marie Brassard. The show is an inventive assemblage of sound, film and theatrical performance that dislodges its audience from time and space, taking them into the recesses of Brassard’s psyche. Haunting yet beautiful, this show perfectly articulates what places Marie Brassard over and above her contemporaries in the world of Canadian theatre.
In this piece, writer, director and performer Marie Brassard explores and reinvents intersecting visions of her future and past, all while reaffirming the present. She vacillates from visions of her dying future-self to her peaceful youth in Trois-Rivières, interspersed by the unfolding of her own personal creation story. Brassard’s powerful performance abilities hold all of these elements together; her very presence creates an anchor for the audience to latch onto. She demonstrates a deep level of skill and self-reflection as she shifts seamlessly between the voices of her present, future, and child-self, astonishingly embodying the multiplicity that resides in all of us. Throughout the play, Brassard seems at peace in the chaotic yet beautiful technological world on stage, coming to the precipice, but never quite being consumed by the film projections behind her and the lighting tubes coiled at her feet. This shows that Brassard’s power in the theatre is not derived from her performance skills alone, but also in the way she is able to direct the collaboration of many fine artists, in varying fields, to produce a singularly unique theatrical mode.
Brassard is joined on stage by the two sound designers of the show, Jonathan Parant and Alexandre St-Ong. These musical artists sit behind two Macbooks, manipulating the sound design while also playing instruments and producing their own vocal effects. The pair contributes more voices for Brassard to embody, and also illuminates her embrace of the usually cloistered aspects of the stage, by placing these aspects center stage.
Another strong presence on the stage is the magnificent lighting and video effects designed by Mikko Hynninen. Hynninen creates the video design from the works of Karl Lemieux and Philippe Tremblay-Berberi to produce a liminal universe from which Brassard can travel through space, time and the human mind. The lighting design is out of this world, including powerfully ominous side-lighting and serpentine light coils covering the stage, which work in tandem with the video design to make the stage otherworldly. These inventive design aspects facilitate a slippery space for Brassard’s masterpiece to thrive in.
I’ve always said that if theatre is going to thrive in the 21st century, it will have to embrace technology in a way all its own. That is what makes Me Talking to Myself in the Future such a compelling piece; despite the overwhelming use of film and sound editing, the show is undeniably theatrical. By combining great talent with strong direction, Me Talking to Myself in the Future sets the standard by which all other productions should be measured.
Me Talking to Myself in the Future is playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto, Ontario, until April 6. Tickets can be purchased by telephone:416-975-8555 or online at buddiesinbadtimes.com
photo credit: Nurith Wagner-Strauss