Review: Cold Blood (Canadian Stage)

Cold Blood“Absolutely fabulous” Cold Blood tackles death, on stage in Toronto

I had high hopes for Cold Blood, which opened Wednesday at the Bluma Appel Theatre. I saw Kiss and Cry in 2014 and absolutely loved it. I wasn’t disappointed; Cold Blood is a wonderful marriage of dance and film.

Created by Belgian choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey, Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael, and the Collectif Kiss and Cry, with a script by Thomas Gunzig, De Mey, and Van Dormael, Cold Blood feels almost like a dream. It’s surreal, sometimes bizarre, funny, and sensual.

Before the show began, the only thing we could see on the stage was a large white screen. The show opened with a narrative that sounded almost like a meditation; the audience was led into another world, to an examination of how we die and what we experience in the last moments before death. It’s not at all morbid. It’s alluring and poetic.

The screen rises so the audience can see it and see the stage. There are nine people on stage and what we see on the screen is the movie that they are making. It’s ephemeral, and ‘movie’ may not be the right word. We see it as it’s created, and then it’s gone. In a way, it’s like life and death.

If you saw Kiss and Cry you know that the dancers use their hands to dance. It’s their hands that the audience sees on the screen. It’s beautiful. It amazes me how much is conveyed just using hands.

The sets are tiny. I love miniature things so the miniature sets really appeal to me. There are mini landscapes and small, scaled cityscapes. The dancers move in these tiny sets and on the screen everything looks life-sized. It’s magical.

I found it fascinating that I could watch a plane that had crashed in the woods on the screen and find it realistic even after I looked on the stage and saw that the ‘woods’ were sticks on a board. The morning mist was being blown through the sticks with something that looked like a hand-held steamer but when I looked back at the screen I accepted it as mist.

There are seven deaths in the show. At the beginning of each segment the narrator lists different kinds of death, not the method or cause but the types of death. Stupid deaths, soft deaths, silly deaths, and so on. It’s an amazing list. He goes on to tell a story about the death while we watch it on the screen.

The narration was mesmerizing. Toby Regbo, the narrator, has an even, calm voice. It’s unemotional without being cold. He spoke directly to the audience using the second person rather than the third person. “You remember…” It added to the hypnotic feel of the piece.

There are some absolutely fabulous segments. There’s a 1930s-style tap dancing sequence that morphs into a drive-in movie complete with a tiny tub of popcorn for the person (hand) watching the movie. It’s little details like the popcorn that I love.

Actually, I loved all the sequences, particularly the pole dancing sequence and the car wash sequence.

At the end, I heard people around me saying how wonderful the show was. There were three curtain calls, a sure sign that the audience loved it. I keep thinking about bits of the show: a sure sign that I loved it.

It’s a short run, there are only four more performances, so get tickets now. You’ll be glad that you did.

Details:

  • Cold Blood is playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St E) until Feb 14
  • Performance times: Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 1 pm
  • Ticket prices range from $24.00 to $99.00
  • Tickets are available online, by phone at 416.368.3110, and at the box office

Photo by Julien Lambert