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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: (Toronto) Vieux Carré

Kaneza Schaal (Photo: © Franck Beloncle)

“Loneliness is an affliction.” - The Writer
Wooster Group explodes into World Stage
by Jessica Yen
The Wooster Group's Version of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carré is not for the faint of heart. This mind-bending two hour experimental piece takes the audience deep into one of Tennessee Williams' most autobiographical plays.
In signature Wooster Group style, this piece is a multilayered landscape of movement, technology and text. We travel through The Writer's memories of his time as a young man living in the French quarter of New Orleans. In his encounters with the various tenants of the boarding house, The Writer undergoes a transformation, awakening sexually and artistically. 
His words ring out and feelings of loneliness and nostalgia hang heavy in the air.

Using video, voice altering effects, projection and sound score, we experience a mechanical deconstruction of the original play. The set may look cold and industrial; comprised of rigging, television monitors, and pulley systems, but none of Williams' haunting poetry is lost. His words ring out and feelings of loneliness and nostalgia hang heavy in the air. 
The performers fly with ease through the playground of moving platforms and doors, sometimes playing multiple characters. The line is blurred between memory and fantasy, and we are left to wonder how much is fictionalized by The Writer as he types out his recollections. 
Sometimes The Writers memories are played out in the flesh, other times ephemerally through images on a screen, often switching abruptly from one to the other. The experience can often feel schizophrenic, making it difficult at times to focus on the action. 
The Wooster Group's Version of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carre, is Williams like you've never seen it. It is a rabbit hole in which to fall into, and as the audience you choose how far down you want to go. 

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