Last night 60-odd CreComms trooped over to the Rachel Brown Theatre on Bannatyne to see Theatre Projects Manitoba's newest production. In the Chamber 2010 consisted of two one-man performances, which tackled humans' relationships with, and rejections of, corporate and bureaucratic systems of which they are an inherent part.
Part One: Last Man in Krakendorf, written and performed by Gordon Tanner, portrayed a man dealing with the aftermath of a massive hog barn fire, (an unfortunate Manitoba reality) an event that has drastically changed his worldview.
Tired and grumpy, I was expecting to hate this production from the get-go. I have to admit, the first hour exceeded my lowly expectations. While I found Tanner's performance to be a touch hammy and over-acted, he was still a captivating character with a struggle that touched me on many levels. To watch the aftermath of a human waking up from a life of morally bankrupt drudgery to find passion and emotion in a cause he never imagined he would is very powerful. Still, it went on a little long, and I can't deny I dozed from time to time, only to wake up not seeming to have missed a beat-- a sign much could have been cut.
Part Two: Last Man in Puntarenas, written and performed by Steven Ratzlaff, was less entertaining. It deals with a man who has just quit his job in the health-care industry, reminiscing about how the system led to his family's destruction.
I commend Ratzlaff's clearly proficient acting ability-- his character was quirky and charming and there were some funny moments. But the majority of the script was almost ridiculously tedious. And while I understand that was part of the story and his character (he admits to his friends, portrayed by balloons, that his speech is dull and he can't imagine why anyone would want to listen to him), I cannot understand how reading lengthy and verbose passages analyzing Manitoba's medical system off the page can pass as worthwhile content in a play. Most of it came off as a dry university lecture, and I had serious trouble staying focused. The big question: if a party balloon can't endure his rant (his "friends" kept leaving throughout his speech), then why should we be expected to?
While In the Chamber had redeeming qualities, overall, it was mediocre. That's about it.
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