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Kidd Pivot & Electric Company Theatre

February 12, 2016

Betroffenheit

Reviewed February 12, 2016

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

(Second performance Saturday, February 13, 7:30 p.m.)

kidd pivot betroffenheit_photography by wendyd

Photography by Wendy D

Betroffenheit, a complex collaboration between some of Canada’s best artists, is simply a stunning work of genius. Poignant, bold and unapologetic, the two-hour dance theatre not only peels back the layers of tragedy, but also showcases the brilliant talent of the Kidd Pivot dancers.

Co-created by Crystal Pite, an audacious, unconventional award-winning Canadian choreographer, and Jonathon Young, the fearless, innovative co-founder and artistic director of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre, Betroffenheit tells a non-linear tale of inner turmoil as it roils around the brain of a man – the USER, performed by Young — who grapples with addiction, the result of a traumatic event, referred to as “the accident.”

The first two parts of the show are told against the backdrop of a concrete-colored room, and various communication devices, cables and flashing lights. This all dissolves for the finale, which features a lone ceiling-high vertical beam.

A refined integration of sound by Vancouver-based composers and designers Owen Belton, Alessandro Juliani and Meg Roe, set by dancer/designer Jay Gower Taylor and original lighting by freelance designer Tom Visser contributes to the depth of the work. It’s truly amazing how the dancers’ movements, the voice-overs and the sharp and shadow bursts of lighting harmonize to reflect the struggle on the stage.

The flawless performers are shadows, figments, memories, weaving a confusing yet poignant story of coming to terms with trauma and the reality of the aftermath. And while the subject of the play is an emotional one, based on fear and despair, Pite and Young have cleverly juxtaposed humor and wit into the tale, making it an entirely revolutionary fusion of life and art.

This is a rare opportunity to witness unsurpassed Canadian talent.

The show was first presented as a work-in-progress at the Banff Centre and premiered at Toronto’s Panamania cultural festival last summer. It’s the first time the two Canadians have created a work together, at a time Young was still recovering from a personal tragedy, in which his daughter died in a cabin fire, and Pite was planning a new production.

A note on the German word betroffenheit: According to Pite, it means “shock, bewilderment or impact.” It’s the state of being stopped, struck or perplexed in the face of a particular event, a space and time where language ceases, she says.

 

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