The successful breaking of the fourth wall largely relies on the audience’s suspension of disbelief. It Comes in Waves, produced by Jordan Tannahill and bluemouth inc. in collaboration with Necessary Angel Theatre Company, abandons the traditional stage, seats and theatrical atmosphere for an interactive adventure around the Toronto Islands.
In light of Panamania, this production incorporated the arts and athletics, and as such, transportation to the Toronto Islands was provided via canoe. Personally, I did not see the connection between the production’s themes and canoeing with 18 strangers, but nevertheless it was a thrilling experience (especially for me as a 20-year-old surrounded by an older crowd who doesn’t know the same rowing songs). After a pleasant 15-minute row, we arrived at the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse to the sound of guitar, trumpet and drums. Docked, and herded to the lighthouse, we were informed by Stephen (Stephen O’Connell) that our mission was to plan and substantiate a party. The remainder of the performance included a breathtaking, odd, and overwhelmingly romantic atmosphere. At one point, we were guided to a sunset-soaked beach with an array of candle-lit lanterns. Each audience member received a lamp and headed into the woods, where we were serenaded to Gabi Charron-Merritt and Richard Windeyer’s two-person orchestra.
This production further maximized on the suspension of disbelief through emotional manipulation. To increase involvement, each audience member received a “journey book,” filled with blank pages and a map of the island’s tour. At certain points, Stephen asked the audience to either “write their favourite joke,” “remember an intimate moment,” or “write down their favourite song” as a way of connecting better with the characters.
This connection worked in part with the story of It Comes in Waves. Stephen, leading the audience on an adventure, spoke in third person describing his traits and directly engaging the audience to relate to those characteristics. Further, each of the performers (including Lucy Simic, Dan Wild, and Ciara Adams) were constantly in character during their interactions and conversations with the audience. I believe this key feature added to the magic and believability of the experience as a whole.
This commitment to character largely reflected in the raw power of the actors’ performances. O’Connell, portraying Stephen’s selfish nature, at one point stripped in front of everyone while walking down a path (to the excitement of certain audience members) and ran away, leaving the audience awkwardly stranded. In addition, most of the actual “performing” portion was done in choreographed body movements/dance. Each character’s movements reflected their relationship to Stephen, as well as their emotions and attitude towards him. Especially commendable was the boyish-love depicted by Danny (Wild), who practically broke down crying when he told the story of Stephen’s abuse and lack of love towards him.
It Comes in Waves is definitely a unique piece, forcing everyone to re-examine their lives, the people surrounding them and the importance of their connection to those people.
It Comes in Waves plays as part of Panamania until July 24. For more information visit http://www.toronto2015.org/panamania-details/It-Comes-In-Waves-by-Jordan-Tannahill-and-bluemouth-inc/29.