DareU!: Augmenting Reality, Deconstructing Stories

Technology intrudes, separates, distracts, annoys and replaces the need for human connection. Technology supports new endeavours, makes the impossible possible, and challenges our understanding of what stories are and how we tell them. 

DareU! is a collaboration between mentoring organization The Only Animal and a team of young aspiring story tellers to bring new dimensions to a theme, and portray these facets within a fixed physical space but changing dimensionality of time. Seven stories are vaguely blended together the way that the tide changes the character of the river mouth. We are salmon, swimming between salt and fresh.

Audiences can start with any of the seven pieces; my partner in drama and I, umbilically tethered with headphones attached to the supplied iPad, were led to the chronologically oldest part, A Letter too Late. Or was it? We watched a common story unfold, only to have not just the fourth wall shattered, but to suddenly discover that we are part of the story, in many different aspects.

From there, expectations shattered, we were led into an alternative reality or future, being given Cirque Distopic, an untold story from the world of Harrison Bergeron, which was wildly creepy. 

Leaving the House, a segue to another possible retelling of The Prisoner, with the recurring guest, the all-controlling sphere, made me lose all hope that I could tell what was coming, or whether I would enjoy it. It’s art, Jim, but not as we know it.

If we all know that working with animals and children is the hardest dramatic challenge, Portability mitigates that risk by virtualizing the pets and transporting us, the audience, through the protagonist’s view into imagining what it would be like to be lost, and needing help.

The creepiest part of the performance occurs in a logical place, one especially poignant to me as the adult rememberer of long journeys in family vehicles with tension and distress so thick that cutting it with a knife might prove the only way of effective disposal. Stall 43 reveals the mundanity of relationship horrors and the inevitability of visceral responses to being trapped.

 Finally, Exhibit A turned out to be the most intimate and most uncomfortably human of all the pieces, cleverly using camera angles and close ups, special effects and claustrophobia to explore that aspect of our humanity that likely causes many of us the most discomfort. Discovering sex. Boundaries crossed, once again, as I again discovered the stage boundary was not where I thought it was. 

This is a work that you will need to let percolate. It took a few hours to properly steep for me, so as I write this, I think that the various creative teams led by Sultan Owaisi, Mily Mumford, Amy Dauer, Marcela Amaya, Jess Amy Shead, Baraka Rahmani and Claire Love Wilson deliver something very different, very challenging, and definitely something to check out. 

DareU! is at the Anderson Street Parking Lot on Granville Island, with performances on the hour starting at 6pm until 9pm from Sept 16 through Sept 19.

By Bruce M. Campbell