Mind Of A Snail Co, at the Vancity Culture Lab until March 30th
My Two Cents
Mind Of A Snail’s Multiple Organism is the type of show that will appeal hugely to some and turn off others. There is no denying the inventiveness and artistic originality of creators/performers Jessica Gabriel and Chloe Ziner. As a performance art piece it was revelatory, however as a narrative it didn’t work for me. I often found myself thinking - “where is this going?” - and being disappointed with the answer.
What’s it about? A model steals an artist’s magic paintbrush and finds herself going on a psychedelic journey with two sentient toothbrushes. Still with me? Scenes of the toothbrushes are interspersed with monologues from a character known as Buddy. Buddy is a confronting creation, but he’s remarkably easy to laugh with and listen to once the initial shock wears off. The vulgar sight gags are quite funny, but not for the faint of heart. My problem with Buddy was that if felt like a very long time before we got to the point. The build didn’t feel organic, but rather the monologues meandered self-indulgently until finally we were hit over the head with the simple message.
Where Mind Of A Snail excels are visuals and sound, and here they are in a class by themselves. The shadow puppetry is expertly and meticulously executed - it's like watching animation come to life in real time. The sound design, again by Chloe Ziner, is atmospheric acid jazz at its finest. The final sequence is a work of breathtaking genius. There were just a few too many toothbrush shenanigans and overt buffoonery for me to feel truly invested. Perhaps I’m looking for more than I needed too, or didn’t internalize the message as fully as I ought to have done.
Mind Of A Snail describe their work as “visual poems with narrative elements”. They have found incredible success at Fringe and beyond. I’m glad they have a platform to showcase their unique brand of theatre, even if I wasn’t totally on board. If you like your shows with a heavy dose of absurdism, jump in if you are so bold!