I’m So Close…: physics, globalization and a talking goldfish
Why Not Theatre is back for the Theatre Centre’s Free Fall Festival with I’m So Close…, an updated version of their 2008 Summerworks offering I’m So Close It’s Not Even Funny. While I unfortunately missed this first version, fellow Planker M John Kennedy put forth a thorough and very positive account here. During the interim time Why Not’s creative team have expanded on their themes, crafting a multimedia commentary on human connection in the era of globalization.
Troels Hagen Findsen reprises his role as Steve, a green-tech innovator now thrust into the world of product development as his photosynthesis-based device charger is rushed into production. His whirlwind globetrotting experience takes centre stage, as well as the increasing rift it causes between him and his loving wife Stella, as played by Katrina Bugaj. Said rift is filled in a bizarrely touching manner by Ravi Jain as Raj, Steve’s ‘Indian Virtual Assistant’ operating out of New Delhi and passing messages between the estranged couple.
The storyline is interspersed with various vignettes, from a documentary on a pair of Neolithic skeletons found locked in a mysterious embrace to a surreal dream sequence following Stella’s pet goldfish. The entire project finds ambitious roots in the theories but forth by Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time; primarily in the notion that the universe is constantly expanding, thus driving everything apart literally just as globalization drives the lovers apart physically. All the heady Hawking is peppered with morsels of McLuhan, examining how our tech-reliant society struggles to bridge the growing gaps, with varying degrees of success.
The Why Not team’s use of physical theatre is pitch-perfect for their performance; a series of frantic and expertly choreographed sequences are used to emulate the speed of life in today’s society. In his initial review M John explains the opening sequence of Steve being propelled through his daily routine in a flurry of manipulated props, which I’m very glad made it into this version. In addition an impressive ballet is performed between Steve and a series of corporate caricatures, emulating his whirlwind global tour.
While the performance blends multimedia projections, music and physicality into a seamless blend, it has the unfortunate flaw of still feeling unfinished. The performance barely runs an hour long, and offers up no resolution to the plotline of Steve and Stella’s decaying marriage. Though the final image of their halting IM conversation is poignant and bittersweet, it feels more like the end of a second act than an actual narrative climax.
There’s an irony in the fact that Jain, Bulgaj and Findsen came together from different corners of the world (Canada, America and Denmark, respectively) during their studies at the Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School in France; clearly globalization has brought them together just as it tears their characters apart. They exist as their own counterpoint: despite the universe steadily driving everything and everyone apart, they found each other across borders to serve up such seamless on-stage chemistry.
I’m So Close… presented by Why Not Theatre and created as part of The Theatre Centre Residency Program; Written by, directed by and starring Ravi Jain, Katrina Bugaj and Troels Hagen Findsen; Co-written and Dramaturgy by Nicolas Billon; Lighting Design by Gina Scherr; Sound Design by M.L. Dogg. Playing at The Theatre Centre until April 3, for more information go here. The production will also be in Vancouver as part of Rumble Theatre's Tremors Festival, which you can find out more about here.