Outside The March’s Vitals offers a whole new perspective on the representation of the human psyche and what it takes for a person to become lost in a constant loop of insanity. Written by Rosamund Small and directed by Mitchell Cushman, this immersive piece of theatre allows for its audience to experience, along with its main character, a sense of isolation, as they explore the darker corners of society. By allowing the audience to wander the venue themselves, no corner of this house of hell is left untouched.
The play is centered around Anna (Katherine Cullen), a woman who finds herself shuffling through memories, as she walks the audience through her traumatic flashbacks of being a paramedic, addressing the audience as if they were fellow employees. In conjunction with this, before even entering the venue, you are introduced to a man in a wooden structure about a block away from the house (the performance venue), who is dressed as a law enforcer. He gives you a radio, a pair of forensic rubber gloves and addresses you as a fellow officer as well, initiating your immersion into Anna’s world. The use of the radio is particularly interesting as it allows you to hear fragments of Anna’s thought process, along with sound effects, which accentuate her mental deterioration.
The play begins with a walk to the venue, after being given a map indicating how to get to the house. On the way to 151 Pearson St (the venue) you hear distress calls through the radio, warning you of the trouble ahead. The house is composed of several different rooms that contain different lighting schemes, all which serve a different purpose, but each effective in creating an uneasy atmosphere to accompany Anna’s monodramas.
Although the performance only has one character, Cullen seems to hold the show on its feet as a narrative. Progressing subtly throughout, she introduces the audience to a whole new character towards the end of the show, by diving deeper into the darker corners of her memory. At the start of the show, it seems as though Katherine herself is ungrounded, though as the performance progresses, you discover that this is, in fact, a cleverly devised character choice, which expresses Anna’s unease that later bleeds through in the form of suppressed memories.
The story ends on a high note, though in tragic setting, leaving the audience in a conflicted state of emotions, much like Anna’s mental state of detachment, further persuading each audience member to asses his/her own state of mind.
Vitals runs until May 25th and is sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille. Location: 149 Roncesvalles Avenue. Runtime is approximately 90 minutes, without intermission.