Picture this: you walk into a large, dark room with four sets of bleacher seats, each illuminated with a different coloured light , and a large basketball net located at the end of the room. A Basketball Coach (Colin Doyle) comes up to you and asks which team you would like to join. You then sit down in the section of bleachers designated by the colour of your team and you are told to put on a pair of headphones hanging from the back of your chair.
Finally, the play starts; you listen to a man talking through the headphones at a deafeningly loud volume while four actors come on stage, change into basketball clothing and start shooting hoops in front of you. After about 15 minutes of loud, pre-recorded dialogue, each actor approaches their respective team, and informs them that they have been entered in a competition against the other teams. The rest of the 90 minutes follows the greatest entertainment one can ask for in theatre.
Monday Nights, produced by the 6th Man Collective, was enjoyable in large part because of its lack of typical “play” qualities. The performance did not have a plot, a conflict or a clear purpose. It was just plain and simple entertainment for the audience.
Each Team Captain prepped their audience, encouraging them throughout the performance to participate in the different basketball-related competitions. Richard Lee represented Team Blue, Jeff Yung represented Team Green, Darrel Gamotin represented Team Black and Byron Abalos represented Team Red. I’m certain that at some point, the audience forgot that they actually came to see a play, and were instead more focused on their respective teams winning the competition. Loud and aggressive cheering arose from all four sets of bleachers.
All in all, I really enjoyed Monday Nights. After the performance, I asked Yung what he thought about the performance as a work of art and he shared with me the following: “I definitely think of myself as more an actor than an athlete, and what we showed here tonight was our personal expressions and our real feelings as friends, and the connections we developed while playing basketball.”
In spite of this statement, I felt that the 15-minute pre-recorded dialogue did not allow for a full understanding of the actors’ “bromance.” Don’t get me wrong; it was an original and interesting concept, but there wasn’t much context as to why they were playing basketball, what united them, and why their union was significant. What made it worse was right before the end of the performance, the Team Captains lined up in front of the basket to shoot hoops while saying things like, “I wish I was better” or “I wish I could be a dad,” a statement with zero context. As such, I felt that the play was an inside joke that I was not a part of.
Nevertheless, watching Monday Nights this Monday night (July 13) was quite pleasurable and I definitely recommend this show to anyone who likes standing up and being loud. (Any b-ball fans out there?)
Monday Nights runs until July 26 at The Theatre Centre. For more information, check out 6th Man Collective’s Facebook page .