Connie is an actor

JG is a performer and devisor

El is a director 

Connie

So what was in your pockets?

 

JG

My pockets were a quarter full having been acquainted with Tiny Dynamite and having worked with Jorge before. I’d had a restful day coming up to it and had read the description. You?

 

Connie

I, too, am familiar with Tiny Dynamite and have worked with Emma before. I was walking in with an interest in how the 2 actors on 2 continents connected by internet would work.

 

El

I know or have met most of the people who worked on the show. I have favourable impressions of them all, they’re very nice.

 

JG

The piece felt like a cautionary tale or a wicked episode of Black Mirror come to life.

 

Connie

Yes! I had the very same thought half way through that this had a very Black Mirror feel. The perils of technology because technology is still being used by people, who are very imperfect.

 

JG

Very imperfect I’ll second that. I wanted to have character I connected to or liked more than the other, but they were both incredibly manipulative.

 

Connie

I agree. The way I experienced the script was that there’s this huge global catastrophe, and we have two people who we’re told love each other on different ends of this conflict. But about halfway through the play, I just didn’t understand why they would even still be talking to one another.

 

JG

I feel looking back that the love was already hanging on by a handful threads at the beginning.

 

El

I agree. The marital tension felt the same the whole way through, so the journey wasn’t theirs. It was the war’s and the technology’s.  I think that the problems with consistency in tone is partly a fault in the script and partly in direction.

For example why does the opening scene between the two of them show her working and barely paying attention to him? And it happens again in the trying on clothes scene. If they’re not paying attention to each other then why should we care about the relationship? When two people in a relationship skype internationally you’d think they’d engage more, unless they were already on the skids.

 

Connie

And that overall lack of love short-changed the final scene. If these two people had started off close and been pulling away from each other the whole play, by the time we got to the end there would have been a feeling of shock. It just wasn’t there for me. 

 

JG

Yeah. I hear that. However, I was intrigued by who was responsible for the end scene. I suppose both sides could be implicated in how the manipulation/oppression of genetics and free will come to a head. I did feel a  flash of recognition in the final scene. I was curious to know what happens after.

 

El

Me too. I really liked that final scene.

 

However, I felt like they were talking about the husband’s impending death relatively casually, that was a little weird for me. I was left wanting more from the story.

 

Connie

Absolutely, but I think script quibbles aside, the play felt successful to me. I really enjoyed Emma Gibson and Harry Smith together. I think both of them gave strong performances even though they were in different places.

 

JG

I quite agree the performances were strong. I also enjoyed that each had a different spacial challenge. Half theater, half house play.

 

El

I’m going to push back here. I thought the performances were strong but as I said above I was not a fan of the direction and some of the design choices.

 

The scientist character played by Emma Gibson was stranded in a grey box without anything to play off of except that science-table thing, which wasn’t used as fully as I would expect from the single furniture piece. I have seen her perform before and she’s great, but I felt like she was left working against her blocking here. She’s standing awkwardly most of the time, which is not how people skype together, and that front screen obscured her face a lot.

 

Connie

Speaking of screens, what did you think of the technology aspect of having an actor on another continent, doing the performance there via video connection? That’s what I heard the most about before coming in to see the show.

 

JG

There were notes of  Big Brother all over the place: screens in walls and cameras in every room. To me nothing felt out of place or unnecessary as can often be the case with projection.

 

El

I agree, the projections felt central in a great way. I was confused by the choice to put the husband on a giant screen high on the wall, effectively a huge TV?  The actor, Harry Smith, did a great job of emoting at the right intensity for that size of screen, he was compelling despite how much I disliked his self-righteous character. But the placement and size of that main screen made me feel like he was the focus all the time, which wasn’t helped by Emma Gibson’s face being obscured.

 

And in the scene where the son is taken, we were denied her face all together. That frustrated me.  I got all these close-ups of the husband’s face, but just the back of her head in what was arguably the central scene. I’m so sick of male character’s emotions being presented as more important than female character’s, I see that all the time in Philadelphia and did not expect it from Tiny Dynamite.

 

Then it was great to have Emma’s character’s presentations about her work and the company, and I thought Gibson kept those big expositional texts moving well, especially when she connected with the audience. But why wasn’t she in charge of the projections, for example? I wanted her to have more agency there, too.

 

I guess this all comes to the fact that I felt like there was a lot done to minimize her both from direction and design, which I’ll admit I’m sensitive to. I’ll be clear that my quibbles are not with the quality of the design, rather the overall effect of the choices made.

 

Connie

I thought Jorge Cousineau’s design was carefully crafted. I loved the coolness and spartan design of the theatre space juxtaposed with the warm chaos of a lived in house.

 

El

I do agree with that. It was a good choice to differentiate the characters visually, I liked that unusual choice of the house a lot.

 

Connie

The lights, sound, video, and costume worked together in way that really stuck with me. This was a team that really tapped into the vision of this play.

My favorite part of the entire design was the outer framing of the stage with the opaque plastic sheeting with vines on it. It gave me greenhouse vibes, but also reminded me of the plastic sheets you see in disaster movies when there’s a bio terrorism event.

 

JG

Yep. The theatre set was very sterile. I loved how the house changed as well from inviting to empty. The direction was also solid, navigating all that terrain and time.

 

El

This was totally an ambitious design that made a world successfully and cohesively. I also liked the vines behind the plastic, and think Jorge Cousineau is a detail-oriented genius. It simply added up to a frustrating world for me, despite the cohesion, for the reasons I said earlier.

 

JG

I keep circling back to the script, like could this be the second part of a trilogy. Part one is all about their love in set in a park with them together and part three is a cybertribunal.  I’m so curious. Also a scifi fan.

 

El
Yes, more scifi plays please! The technology and the world-building will stick with me for a long time. Good on Tiny Dynamite for trying something new.

 

Connie

I hear you both.  I’m a sucker for a scifi story, particularly about how technology isn’t the cure for the problems of humanity. Technology only does what the human behind it tells it to do, and this is a story about a company literally recrafting the world, for a profit, but in the name of saving it for future generations.

 

JG

I’m pretty sure that company already exists.

 

Connie

Oh yes. And I started thinking about how you change this to scientists working for Pharma or the Healthcare Industry and it still feels the same. The perils of making money off our planet and the welfare of humanity.

 

JG

In any world, even with the best laid plans, expect only the unexpected.

 

Connie

I couldn’t agree more.

 

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