James Ryan Gobuty
Little Black Afro Theatre Company’s new fringe show Carbon Copies takes on the brave task of combining the performance modes of traditional theatre with spoken-word/slam poetry. As someone with one foot in the door of both the theatre scene and the spoken word scene, I was nervous to see this production, as I was well aware of the many pitfalls such an attempt could face. To my great surprise, the show really worked – a great testament to the direction and dramaturgical work necessary to make that possible.
Carbon Copies, directed by Luke Reece and written by the cast/crew, follows its protagonist Aaron as he is shuttled from his middling life into a fantastic world where everyone is frozen in a single instance of time. As the protagonist works to find out where he is and how to get home, he meets a host of other characters who are also trapped in this world, all of them explicating their characters and situations by replacing the use of monologue with spoken-word.
From a theatrical perspective, this show is spot on. There is a good balance of dialogue to spoken-word, and the plot is just tight enough to keep the show cohesive, but loose and strange enough to permit the use of more unusual performance styles – kudos to the dramaturgical team. I also found the use of film to be rather cleverly utilized; it allows the audience to view the “real world”, without being heavy handed. Furthermore, the lighting, with the exception of some minor issues, was successful in adding a lot of depth to the limited atmosphere of the stage.
From a poetry perspective, I found the piece was more hit and miss, with some stand out performances such as “the girl with the smooth voice”, and some less intriguing ones. Certain performers suffered from what, in the spoken word scene, is referred to as “poetry-voice,” an affectation in performing spoken word that seems disingenuous and cliché, but for the most part (and to my great joy) this was not the case. All in all, this show is well formed and entertaining, and all the more impressive for combining two forms of performance that often don’t mesh well.
Carbon Copies is playing at The Hamilton Fringe Festival at Mill’s Hardware on Wednesday July 23rd at 6:30pm, Friday July 25th at 8pm, Saturday July 26th at 12pm, and Sunday July 27th at 9pm. Tickets can be purchased online at hamiltonfringe.ca, or at the venue.