by carl wilson

Digital Watercoloured Memories...

ratkingribs.jpg
The Rat King by Maggie MacDonald at the Alchemy Theatre last weekend. From left: Jeremy Singer, Reg Vermue and Magali Meagher, about to consume their mother's remains. Photo by Lee Towndrow.

The Internet, that virtual communal diary, that thief of dreams, turns out to be loaded with fragments of my experiences the past week.

1. The Rat King. Above a pic from a set by Lee T. of Maggie M.'s The Rat King, which I caught at the Saturday midnight show, which given its cannibalism, mutant rats, zombie sisters, shipwrecked sailors and other B-movie imagery, along with music by Bob Wiseman that was surprisingly often reminiscent less of Brecht than of Little Shop of Horrors, seemed quite apt. I largely agreed with my colleague Robert Everett Green about the show's virtues and vices, though I thought Jeremy Singer (of the Hank Collective) deserved more recognition for the way he came alive in the second half, striking uproariously third-wall-busting switcheroos between razamatazz and menace in the musical numbers. There needs to be a soundtrack release of this one, as several of the MacDonald-Wiseman tunes, such as Germinal Man and Magali Meagher's courting song (as the Girl) to the Boy, "Even if you have no talk, you can talk to me," were sterling hit-parade stuff. There were some very slow-crawling patches, especially in the first several scenes (there should be more singing, earlier); the scenes with the zombie-ghost sister really need rethinking; and for me the resolution of the play was broadly unsatisfying (the ribs pictured above should really belong to the Boy; the alternate path taken felt quite muddled in the staging). A more radical rapprochement between the Girl and the rats seems called for by the play's internal logic; the choice made instead is a bit pat. The Ratbot never amounted to much; it ended up as barely even a MacGuffin; more of a red herring. In these ways the show was a bit disappointingly conservative, insofar as a post-apocalyptic fairy tale in rhyming couplets can be. And certainly some of the amateur acting detracted from the line-readings, as much as it made this production far more charming and involving than much professional theatre. All those caveats aside, a new production in a bigger house or a longer run, perhaps with an assist from the pro's, and certainly with the more complete pit band Bob told me he'd like (and as Robert says, maybe amplification), is more than warranted, and I do hope that possibility is somewhere in the air.

2. Laura Barrett. I will use the excuse of Sunday night's Wavelength experience to point out that the mp3 blog I Guess I'm Floating has a full set of mp3s documenting Final Fantasy's performance at the Over the Top event a couple of weeks ago, discussed in Zoiluses previous. If nothing else, listen to the performance with Laura Barrett of her song Robot Ponies (again, see the past) which sounds smoother than I remembered, though it does omit the crucial final verse. Not so the beautiful version heard on Sunday with Laura's new guest bassist, who had a great limber sound and gave good bottom end to the kalimba's plucky music-box sound, although we still adore it on its own. Laura's WL debut was a triumph, with a packed house at Sneaky Dee's falling into a respectful silence for at least the first 20-plus minutes. The girl's got a sneaky kind of star power. It's certainly testament to the oddness of the Torontopian moment that her nerdgasmic songwriting and demure style have been so immediately embraced, but the musical sumptuousness of the work would be tough to gainsay no matter where. Word is going to spread faster than anyone expects. (And not just because I'm going to spread it.)

3. Trampoline Hall: Last week's all-15-year-old edition of Tramp. Hall was a delight, as this slideshow (also by lensmaster Lee T.) should demonstrate. Several not-too-fugly shots of yours truly even pop up along the way, much improved by proximity to beautiful women. So, the primary quality of 15-year-olds forced to give lectures (on shortness, Christianity and their English teacher) to a bar full of adults? A straightforward forthcomingness near-unimaginable in their elders. Primary shortcoming? Much the same: Subtlety, context, sense of paradox are not early-adolescent strong suits, it seems, while for most of the regular 20/30-sumpthin' TH crowd, they are almost paralyzingly everpresent. Funniest line? I think host Misha's off-the-cuff claim, inspired by the fact that the night's programme was for the first time ever not printed on paper but in the form of a CDR with video, that people born in the 1990s have the ability to read digital media without any computer hardware: "If you don't yet have the perceptual upgrade, you'll be able to download it from our website later this week." Best post-show discussion (next to requests for info on the Ninja High School and Barmitzvah Brothers music I played at intermission): On how North American evangelical Christianity posits that a "personal" connection with God can be struck up by a simple egocentric act of will ("accepting Jesus Christ as my personal saviour"), etc., while far older monastic and other traditions emphasize the great self-sacrifice, humility and rigor that are required to achieve that relationship - and how this problem can be applied to other senses of vocation (political, artistic, ethical) - that this culture denies the very real possibility that you must reject a certain worldliness if you intend to dedicate yourself to a countercultural ideal. On the other hand, perhaps there is a quietistic strain to those older traditions, intended to ghettoize the misfits and prevent them from actually effecting any change. Now: Apply to "underground" music, "political" art and performance, etc. (If you cannot do so, you can download the upgrade from Zoilus later this week.)

| Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, January 24 at 07:38 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)

 

COMMENTS

Hello! lortab http://lortab.blog.kataweb.it/ Bye!

Posted by ephedra on February 13, 2006 06:07 PM

 

 

Hello! lortab http://lortab.blog.kataweb.it/ Bye!

Posted by ephedra on February 13, 2006 06:07 PM

 

 

Hello! lortab http://lortab.blog.kataweb.it/ Bye!

Posted by ephedra on February 13, 2006 06:07 PM

 

 

Hello! lortab http://lortab.blog.kataweb.it/ Bye!

Posted by ephedra on February 13, 2006 06:07 PM

 

 

Hello! lortab http://lortab.blog.kataweb.it/ Bye!

Posted by ephedra on February 13, 2006 06:07 PM

 

 

Hello! lortab http://lortab.blog.kataweb.it/ Bye!

Posted by ephedra on February 13, 2006 06:07 PM

 

 

I just want to say that that photo is the most awesome thing I have seen all week. Sad I missed the show, hope there's a remount soon.

Posted by Nadia on January 27, 2006 10:59 PM

 

 

Well, most of Sumi's complaints are typical Canadian theatrical conservatism - WHAT DO THE RATS MEAN? WHY DID YOU SAY ENOLA GAY? (um, because the main character's dad says he worked with Oppenheimer, did you miss that?) EXPLAIN EVERYTHING TO ME SO I CAN GO BACK TO SLEEP! - but his comments about the choreography and production values are fair. Rather than something "not trying very hard" to be mainstream, you want to see something succeeding very well at being something Else. Rat King sometimes fell too much in between. (That still made it 50 per cent better than 90 per cent of Toronto conventional theatre, by dint of not respecting phony priorities. But it could have been 100.) Time and budget no doubt explain some of the shortcomings, but not all.

Posted by zoilus on January 26, 2006 10:57 PM

 

 

Any thoughts about Glen Sumi's take on the rat king? (in now magazine)
Should the scales of "regular theatre" be applied to measure what is obviously not trying very hard to be part of mainstream theatre?

Posted by guy tanentzapf on January 26, 2006 09:28 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson