Actors! at Winchester Kitchen

The show is Actors! Canadian Actors Up Close and Personal, and before I go any further I need to say that it’s not a show in the usual sense.  I hate telling you too much because I’d be stealing some of the surprise inherent in this work.  It says right on the program that it’s “part panel discussion, part scripted performance“.

True.

Melissa Major

Melissa Major of Cheshire Unicorn Theatre Company has created this mix of happening and drama.

Knowing that, I sat right at the front because I guess I am a bit of a whore for audience participation.  I grew up as my brother’s claque, bravoing loudly, and love helping a show by laughing at a good joke where the laughter can get an audience going.  I enjoy being complicit even when haha maybe nobody asked me to be complicit?

Hm…

We live in a funny world where the boundaries are already compromised.  I am Facebook friends with famous opera singers and actors I have never met and likely never will meet.  Wtf? Celebrity culture makes for a slippery slope.

Ha I almost miss-typed that as ‘slippery slop’. HA!  That too!

Once upon a time, long ago, I saw a show where the fourth wall was violated by a transgressive performer coming into the audience, asking, no demanding a response from all the scared patrons.  Once upon a time it used to make me nervous.

Now? We’re all eager for this, fascinated with train-wrecks wherever they may be. In other words, reality TV –as one of the participants remarked tonight—is something we know is bad, but really hard to resist.  Like potato chips or cigarettes, you may know it’s poison but that doesn’t stop you.

In a world of hybrid art-forms, where conventional boundaries & structures are under attack by the ongoing hunger for re-invention & re-definition that’s everywhere, it should surprise no one that theatre, too, would be subject to the same dynamic.  I don’t know what to call Actors! …except that whatever ‘it’ is, it’s fascinating and grotesque and irresistible all at the same time.  Lordy, we all seem to love train wrecks.

How cool that this one is partly real and partly scripted.

Let me just say that for those of you who fear actors pulling you into the piece, you can sit at the back and watch from safety.  Those who want to be involved?  Haha oh my God, you can sit near the front and get tangled in it to your heart’s content.  I felt a bit like a mad scientist playing with a laboratory, only the laboratory subjects are the actors. You can’t step into this (same) river twice, so my innocence is gone now that I have played in this sandbox tonight with Stephanie Seaton & Tim Walker, plus Melissa Major (maven  of mayhem).  In a way i wish i could do it again (fun!), but i can’t pretend i haven’t seen it.

Wow I had fun tonight!

By the way, Actors! plays at the Winchester Kitchen, a restaurant/bar at Winchester & Parliament.  If I hadn’t liked the show I still would have been pleased by my prix fixe dinner:

  • a turkey soup that was refreshingly low on salt but flavourful;
  • a Caesar brightened by a lemon (that is, it made the salad perfect) sculpted to look like the sun
  • a big steak I inhaled
  • a yummy dessert (sorry, i don’t know what it was called but it was pastry with ice cream on top)
  • and strong coffee

…all for a very reasonable $30.

I mustn’t give Actors! away for you except to say it’s fun, it’s deep, and it’s an invitation to play along if you’re up to it, running until February 9th.

I will be back to investigate more of the Winchester Kitchen menu.

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