Chase Scenes #1-58 (Ming Hon) 2016 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Chase Scenes #1-58 from the 2016 SummerWorks Performance Festival.Chase Scenes #1-58 is exactly the type of experimental, multidisciplinary performance that I expect and want to see at an innovative festival like SummerWorks. Thoughtful, funny, and a little bit strange, Chase Scenes – a should-see SummerWorks Special Presentation – is an extensive exploration of our psychological and cultural obsession with “the chase.”

Both the artist statement and the description on the SummerWorks website reveal that the performance was “inspired by our collective nightmare of being followed and the manifestation of this in film culture” and the phrase “cutting to the chase.” Fittingly, we are seated in the middle of a large room surrounded by set pieces, props and costumes that evokes the feeling of being on a film lot. These items are then used to create 58 scenes depicting the various ways one can be chased that are brief enough to fit within the span of an hour. (‘Cutting to the chase,’ indeed!)

These scenes are simultaneously filmed by other actors and immediately projected onto six large screens that hang above the playing space. Other chase scenes from famous films are played on the screens when a longer transition is needed. Thus, not only are we watching scenes being filmed on a film set, but we also get to see it on screen as if we are in a cinema.

However, what I found most impressive was the deeper connection I noticed between the form of the piece and its central theme. By forcing us to choose between watching the live performance or the one onscreen, creator Ming Hon drew my attention to my own complicity in the chase as a witness. Although there wasn’t an assigned pursuer in every scene, I realized that in following the action with our eyes as audience members, we are the perpetual pursuers.

As for the content itself, the performers use a combination of dance and theatre to create scenes that explore depictions and representations of the idea of the chase. Some are farcical, some are horrifying: a couple dines and dashes, a “Hollywood Hunk” and a “Heroine” successfully run off into the sunset, a woman runs away in tears with a bruise on her face. Some have more of a storyline whereas others just consist of a performer running through a variety of terrains. Hon also includes more metaphorical variations on the theme, such as the five “Nightmare” scenes where each performer is haunted by a particular type of nightmare even after they have woke.

While this show did not lack in interesting sights or humour, I did not find all 58 scenes necessary or thought-provoking. There seemed to be too many scenes that just consist of a performer running through various barriers or different types of weather. Perhaps it was a reference to film montages or a meditation on the line between chasing and running, but nonetheless it got a bit tedious at times.

On the other hand, Hon wasn’t afraid to allow some of the scenes to take on a deeper, more political resonance. There were multiple scenes where a women is shown running or walking alone at night looking nervously around herself. Unfortunately, due to the lack of cultural diversity in the company, they were not able to do the same for scenes like “Cops.”

All things considered, I am glad to have received the opportunity to see an original, compelling show like Chase Scenes #1-58 that takes the risks expected of a SummerWorks Special Presentation.

Details:

Chase Scenes #1-58 plays at Artscape Sandbox (301 Adelaide Street West).

Show times:

  • Tuesday August 9th, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday August 10th, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
  • Friday August 12th, 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM
  • Saturday August 13th, 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM

Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted. (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee.)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.

Warnings: Coarse Language, Partial Nudity, Mature Themes, Audience Participation, Flying Debris, Gun Shot.

Image provided by SummerWorks.