Skydive: Legends of the Freefall
I'm not going reveal much here in the way of scene details or plot points of *Skydive*, currently enjoying a remount at the "PuSh Festival":http://pushfestival.ca/index.php this year after coming home from a cross-Canada tour. To do so would be a dire injustice to the experience that this carnival fun-house ride of a play has waiting for you at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage. I can, however, talk about the device that the play is structured around, as the company themselves make no secret about it (check out http://thenextstage.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/new-on-the-v-list-skydive/). And I can also tell you that this is a work not to be missed before it finishes this run.
It's fantastic that the beer-hall-conceived idea (see here to find out more http://web.me.com/realwheels/realwheels/Actors_Interview.html) of staging a play entirely in mid-air made it to full production. There are millions of grandiose concepts such as this that get left in the bottom of a pint glass, so the presentation of *Skydive* speaks volumes about the tenacity of this company. The two actors, James Sanders and Bob Frazer, perform while attached to the ends of two rigs that are essentially fully directional boom cranes, turning them into what Mr Frazer refers to as “two puppets on the end of sticks”. It's a strange sight to behold at first, and it takes you a few minutes to get used to but the commitment of the actors to the unique world of the play and its multi-dimensional physics soon lets you accept what you're seeing as a reality specific to these characters while the fantastical nature of the story smoothly buoys the conceit of the rigging. The work doesn't try to mask the fact that these machines are on stage either, instead quite cleverly incorporating them into the story at times. To fully enjoy *Skydive* you absolutely must let the play take you along with it and it's worth the ride.
The script is mightily funny - there were moments that I roared with laughter – but it is always quite close to a pervading sadness. There are also some truly elegant transitions between the two. The success hinges on the fact that the two characters, brothers reconnecting in adulthood, are both portraits of truly dysfunctional people. They are the kind of introverted nerds that have grown up into some really delusional and anti-social outcasts. Not easy characters to believably pull off, but Mr. Sanders and Mr. Frazer do a heroic job of allowing us to witness them open up to each other, as together they explore the shared roots of their dysfunctions, as well as each other's psyche.
*Skydive* could easily have been all about the novelty of two actors suspended over the stage (and at times over the heads of those of us in the orchestra seating), but a solid and reasonably unsentimental script by Kevin Kerr, together with a clear relationship from the actors, present us with a truly unique stage experience. And huge props must be given to the four “puppeteers” who handle the technical side of the performances; they create a four-dimensional world for us and then manage to make us forget that they're even there. A great start to this year's PuSh Festival.
_Skydive; written by Kevin Kerr and directed by Roy Surette and Stephen Drover. A Realwheels production. Part of the PuSh Festival. At the Arts Club Granville Island stage. Continues until February 7. Land "here":http://pushfestival.ca/index.php?mpage=shows&spage=main&id=70#show for more information._