August 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11, 2012
Lantern Church Sanctuary
The physical theatre duo Wonderheads, comprised of Andrew Phoenix and Kate Braidwood, brought the house down at the 2011 Fringe Festival with their full face mask comedy Grim and Fishcer, eventually winning the coveted “best of Fest” award. This year they are back with Loon, a solo show featuring Braidwood again in a full giant mask, this time playing a lonely man who substitutes the love of a real woman for a fantasy love affair with the moon.
Performed without any dialogue, the play uses recorded music, occasional movie soundtracks, a dating service recording and the immense talent of Braidwood’s ability to mime her way through the plot with a gigantic oversized full head mask providing her only expression.
If it sounds surreal, it’s because it is. Don’t look for easy meaning or obvious plot arc in this show. The basic premise is this – following the death of his beloved mother, the lonely man is, well, lonely. He signs up with a dating service, making what is perhaps one of the more pathetic video recorded introductions ever seen. His favorite colour is plaid and his favorite person is his mother. He then waits andwait to hear if he’s been picked by anyone and when he finally does secure a date, it ends with him being stood up. Our hearts break for him.
But for me, that’s where my engagement with the piece ended. The lonely man buries his sorrow in his childhood sci-fi comic books and somehow gets the idea that the moon would make a good romantic partner. From there it all gets very odd. Don’t get me wrong, I really like odd and otherworldly. But for some reason when the lonely man slips into sci-fi fantasy mode and eventually does capture the moon and bring it home to be his love interest, I wasn’t feeling it. The anthropomorphism wasn’t cute or compelling or even active. The moon was simply the moon and the lonely man was projecting without anything in return. It was a frigid love (although I think they made love at some point?!) that left me feeling nothing but a little bored.
The moon and the lonely man do all the things that couples do together, and without a doubt the whole scenario was beautifully staged by Andrew Phoenix and performed by Braidwood. But for me the beauty in the production couldn’t erase the fact that I just didn’t care about the fantasy love affair or the lonely man’s growing frustration at the worldly realities of what happens when the moon is no longer in the sky doing its job.
Given what I had seen these two do last year I was ready to be once again overwhelmed, instead I was whelmed…..but not overly.
For the guys and the girls – There are sweet and funny moments in this surreal and very unique show even if the end result is much less than its parts. MAYBE SEE IT
For the occasional theatre goer – Way too weird and hard to follow. SKIP IT
For the theatre junkie – if you haven’t seen a Wonderhead production it is worth your while even if this isn’t one of their best. MAYBE SEE IT