“11 local companies perform 11 separate pieces in continuous rotation. Brace yourself for a carnival side-show, a piece of toy drama, a post-modern slice of faux dinner theatre … or different combinations of all that and more. The audience’s experience is entirely self-directed, and there’s always a lounge for shouting and a central party space to buzz the night away.”
Single Tickets $25 in advance, $35 at the door.
A large, bee-centric room full of unexpected props – an upside down dollhouse on a post, a knotted rope hanging in a false spotlight, a cardboard honeycomb laid out on the floor, a bucket full of flags – and rows of tables facing a large stage. There is a bar on the right and a vast projection of text flashing over top images of the downtown east side to the left. Girls in angelic paper costumes walk past, followed by a prison guard in army fatigues shouting to get out of the way of two blindfolded prisoners led on a rope. Commissioned by the Magnetic North Theatre Festival and created by eleven of Vancouver’s most interesting theater companies, welcome to the delicious chaos that is HIVE2, the dramatic sequel to last year’s super sold-out HIVE.
Armed only with an orange slip of paper, a list of dubious instructions like Stand In The Honeycomb, Find The Christmas Tree, and Fill Out An Application Form at the Desk, the game is to see how many performances can be seen in a night. (There’s even a dedication rating scale on the back of the instruction sheet). The space is divided into two basic areas, the social room themed with bees, and the vast, confusing, enchanting, and very non-linear performance stages on the Other Side Of The Door. To get to one from the other, simply follow instructions and wait for a guide. Every odd, quirky instruction is connected to a different show. Every odd, quirky show is a completely different experience.
Last night David and I, (having been recruited as volunteers for opening night by Felix Culpa’s David Bloom), managed to see seven of the eleven shows in the hour and fourty minutes before our bar shift, (possibly breaking some sort of record).
Here are my two-second, no spoiler reviews: Felix Culpa trapped us in a sweet, lyrical world of creation and cardboard; Theater Replacement made us wait at a Christmas Tree, mocked how we think of internet comments, and gave us jelly-beans; Electric Company, (David’s favourite), righteously play-ed with dada, french doors, and incredible lines of perspective; Radix put us in an assembly line, (where I stole an orange. My tip? Make sure you’re first into the room); Boca Del Lupo was ambient, relaxing, and not a little scary; and Leaky Heaven Circus made us take off our shoes so as to not damage the mirrors that played with our heads.
Which leaves neworldtheatre, The Only Animal, Rumble Productions, Theatre Conspiracy and Victoria’s Theatre SKAM, all of which look interesting. neworldtheatre reputedly gives out cookies, The Only Animal show, (possibly with visuals by freaking Jamie Griffiths!), has an audience size of only one, awarding them the most intriguing, followed closely by Theatre Conspiracy, who only take thirty-five a night, two at a time and dressed as blindfolded Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the Rumble Productions or the Theater SKAM shows, except the former seems to have dead zealots for guides and SKAM collects its audience with creepy dolls.
Guess I’ll find out about them on Saturday. When my mother asked what I would like for my birthday, I replied, “I’d like some tickets to HIVE2.” It is, as the kids say these days, sweet.