THE FULL LIGHT OF DAY
Electric Company Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, until Jan 12
My Two Pence
The Electric Company Theatre in association with Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and BMO has created something spectacular here... The playwright Daniel Brooks notes many influences and admits that he ‘stole liberally’ as he constructed this script - as someone who has not read Tokyo Story, I am not at liberty to say if this is Brooks being literal or self-effacing, but this script - however it came to be - is brilliant. Taken into the capable hands of director Kim Collier ‘The Full Light of Day’ is an electrifying piece of modern theatre which hopefully has a long successful road ahead. It is a shame that this first stint in Vancouver is so short, this World Premiere has a six-performance run (four, if you discount the previews). Considering I saw the show on its second preview, and the sheer magnitude of the tech involved in the show, a huge congratulations and emphasis should be given to the creative team and the crew working behind the scenes on this show. There is a plethora of exceptional talent here, on and off stage.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the technical feats which make this performance so unique. There is live projected filming that accompanies the acting in almost every scene. Brooks says in his notes he wanted to write a screenplay and that influence is clear. Electric Company Theatre has succeeded in producing quality theatre with the polish and detail of the screen through these projections; adding to the intimacy (in the case of the car journey with Harold and Mary), the grotesque (in the case of the dinner where we meet David - Dean Paul Gibson leaning into this piggish role with just the right amount of discomfort) or the emotion (in the case of Mary’s final moments) in ways that are usually inaccessible in the theatre. Some of the cameras are built into the set, some are on stands moved by actors, some are operated by them in real time. This addition of cameras adds another non-practical layer as speaks to these modern times where everything is filmed, and everyone has a camera on them at all time - at any given moment we are vulnerable to being filmed, and these projections coupled with exceptionally clever staging (in perfect harmony, bravo Julie Fox and Brian Johnson) add a voyeuristic element for the audience.
I really feel I could write an entire piece on the creative team alone, however, that said, the cast is dynamite. Many of the ensemble playing multiple roles, with on stage brothers Jonathon Young and Dean Paul Gibson standing out in each incarnation, and Gabrielle Rose and Jim Mezon safely at the helm as conflicted souls Harold and Mary. There are no weak links here, to the credit of Brooks writing and Collier’s direction we are drawn into all the characters imperfect realities.
My one criticism? The ending wasn’t for me. It seemed to be a forced climax when an anticlimax may have been more affecting. However, this should serve as a tiny flaw in what is probably the best piece of theatre I have seen in Vancouver in a number of years. I haven’t even begun to unpack the story itself and the clever commentary on modern society in all its dirty, beautiful truth. This show is smart, thoughtful and really, really special.
- Charlie Upton
Main Image: Don Lee