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Review: Surreal Theatre

Gastown interactive theatre highly enjoyable

Surreal Theatre presents an interactive experience through Gastown until September 30 featured on www.VancouverTheatre.ca

Surreal Theatre presents an interactive experience through Gastown until September 30 – Photo: George Lawson

Review by Max D’Ambrosio

Surreal Theatre’s first episode of its interactive, roaming theatre experience is a very pleasant surprise. Its unorthodox qualities present great challenges, which the theatre troupe overcomes with aplomb.

Most people are probably only familiar with interactive performances in the form of pantomimes for children. Interactive theatre aimed at adults carries the potential to be awkward and distancing. Yet Surreal is so thoroughly casual in its use of interactive moments that any sense of artificiality is pushed to the back of one’s mind within the first few minutes. The script and direction by siblings Nick and Darby Steeves make the whole process fairly structured, but the actors smoothly integrate the moments of interaction and improvisation.

City is a magnificent setting

The actors in the reviewed performance are Laura Miller and Cory Beaulieu; the original cast is Darby Steeves and Luke Sykes. The characters are a young man and a young woman who meet on the streets of downtown Vancouver. Together, they guide an audience of about a dozen people on a walk through Gastown. The audience follows them as if walking in a group of friends. The dialogue is surprisingly easy to tune into despite the ambient background noise of the city. Vancouver itself is a magnificent backdrop, and unwitting pedestrians make for perfect extras.

The two actors speak to the audience in asides, as if they are half-real people, each character behaving as though only they can see and hear the group. It’s a fascinating experience, subtly distinct from any other form of theatre. The closest comparison would be to an informational walking tour, yet even there, the resemblance is superficial.

The Bottom Line

This is a unique and highly enjoyable ride, one that any theatre lover would be remiss not to undertake.

Surreal Theatre

An Interactive Theatre Experience

Gastown

Playing until September 30

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