I love unique experiences, especially unique theatre experiences. I like being pushed out of my comfort zone and getting up close and personal with the set and interacting with the actors. While Moving Target’s remount of Remember the Night (previously staged at the 2008 Winnipeg Fringe Festival) is far from a flawless production, it is just the kind of theatre that adds a little spice to the average day. Stop having a boring theatre, stop having a boring life. Am I right?
Remember the Night follows friendless proto-loser Fred Mandelbaum (Andrew Cecon) as he worries about stuff and inexplicably gets caught up in a murder mystery. Disenfranchisement is an overarching theme here, not just in Fred’s own life, but in modern industrial society. Indeed, the play even bills itself as a reflection on “the ultimate metaphor for 21st century isolation: Winnipeg.”
This particular production is staged in an artsy warehouse/gallery space. Chairs line two sides of the room and, in between, the play lives in a single room consisting of a fridge, a table and chairs, a bed and a living room set. As multiple characters make use of this set for various locations in their lives (several apartments, an old folk’s home, a warehouse), it allows for the layered effect of many lives occurring simultaneously.
The best thing about this production is the inventive use of staging, lighting and sound. While the prominence of pillars in the space creates some poor sightlines, director Arne MacPherson helps keep the actors visible by creating dynamic scenes in which the actors continuously move about the set. While this technique becomes tedious at times — and there are still moments when actors are not visible — it is definitely inventive and adds a fun “chase” element, especially to the scenes with protagonist Fred and his Alzheimer’s-suffering mother. There is also an interrogation scene that takes place in silhouette, a couple of slide shows set to live music (courtesy of local musicians Patrick Keenan and Ian La Rue), and an offstage bathroom moment complete with farting noises and a real toilet flush. Ah, it’s the little things that please.
Not only do I like the inventiveness of the staging, but I like Daniel Thau-Eleff’s script, too. I think I like it so much because of Fred’s love for Cyndi (Claire Therese Friesen) — how he uses her to cope with his extreme loneliness and believes that she is the best friend he ever had, even though he just pays her for sex and company. Fred’s so strung out on worry, but when he’s with Cyndi, she just kind of makes things better . . . even though she’s pretty much a hooker. I like how the play is both sentimental and unsentimental at the same time here.
I also like how the play teaches me new words, like “lugubrious” and “mellifluous.” Well, I mean, they would be new words, if I hadn’t already seen this play twice two years ago.
Favourite personal moment: a brawny cop character (Jeff Strome) asks Fred to take a seat next to “the African,” referring to the character Alistair (Ray Strachan). Megan (the girl I’m sitting with) and I both burst out laughing because we know Ray, the actor playing Alistair. No one else laughs, and so I feel like a racist. See? A live theatre experience draws out a whole range of emotions!
Anyway, if your interest in theatre is minimal at best, check this sucker out for something a little different than your average play.
Remember the Night runs until March 14 at 290 McDermot — fourth floor (between King and Princess). Showtimes can be found at Rememberthenight.ca.