Festival time! Festival time! The most wonderful time of the year!
The snow is starting to melt. The sun is staying up longer. The theatre people are coming out into the light. It must be time for the One Act Play Festival at the Boardmore Playhouse. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the festival, and it started off strong. Two plays, The Voice of Metal by Darren MacQueen and an excerpt from Daniel MacIvor’s House.
MacQueen’s The Voice of Metal had a very interesting structure–very different from conventional theatre. For one, all of the actors in the play wore masks or make-up, making themselves more symbol than person. Another different thing was that the music of the play was performed live, while the dialogue was pre-recorded. When I first heard of these ideas being implemented, I didn’t really know what to think. However, when the play happened, it all worked. The guitar work of the lead (Steven Pace) was perfectly placed and suited the play well. The still faces and out-of-body voices made the play more of a performance piece with a clear story. If I had to describe it to someone who hadn’t seen it, I would say it was like a living puppet show. The movement of all the actors–especially Matt Earhart as the Devil and Kristen Woodford as the Angel–defined the characters very well. The challenge in applying movement to different sound was executed quite well.
The play told the story of a Guitarist–his whole life played out through his disjointed memories, from childhood to adulthood. He faced many hardships that could be faced by any artist, or indeed any person trying to accomplish their dreams. The masks and out-of-body voices helped make many of the characters “anybody”. This made it much more relatable to an audience than I would have thought due to its specific theme (i.e. metal music). A few technical problems aside, The Voice of Metal was a very enjoyable show.
The second play of the evening was not a new one by any stretch. In fact, the last last time House was performed at the Boardmore (a few years ago) it was by Daniel MacIvor himself. That was the first time I had seen it. I enjoyed Michael Taylor in the part more. The reason for that being that I know Michael and I’ve worked with him on stage many times. I’m not showing nepotism here, I’m just trying to explain: the man that he was on stage was not Michael. He became not only a completely different man, he became several different people. A whole crowd of people were created purely through a shift of mannerisms. The way he held himself, the way he spoke, the way he addressed the audience–these all made Michael more than Michael–even more than Victor (the man in the play). The audience hung on every word, every gesture, every spinning of a small invisible ball.
House is a one-man show (as you might have guessed) about Victor and his many problems with society, family, and the constant annoyance of “group.” Throughout the piece, Victor moves from topic to topic seemingly with little reason for changing, often backtracking and breaking down. He also acknowledges the audience frequently as well as the fact that he is, in reality, in a play in a theatre. When he left the stage to walk through the audience, the crowd lost it. Each glare he directed at someone, each misdirected comment about the theatre management got huge laughs. This happened all through the play, but this part was a highlight. It made everyone a part of the joke, and Taylor played that off very well.
This excerpt from House served as Taylor’s directed study, and his final course for his Dramatic Arts certificate from CBU. Todd Hiscock was the director and adviser and did some great work getting everything he needed out of his actor. The work was very demanding and obviously both Hiscock and Taylor were up for the challenge.
If you weren’t out to see this night of theatre, then you really missed out. However, there are still two nights of great original plays to see this week! Wednesday and Friday night, both shows starting at 7pm at the Boardmore Playhouse. I hope to see you there, all in your festival finest!