Bonds Beyond explores a dystopian future where life exists after death
It has often been said that we don’t appreciate something – or someone – until it’s gone. Bonds Beyond, the new work by Glass Reflections Theatre Collective, explores a dystopian future where life exists after death by uploading your consciousness to the Cloud.
Bonds Beyond – on stage at Toronto’s Array Space – is a thought-provoking piece from playwright Colleen Osborn that examines themes of love, loss, and mortality as they relate to the way in which technological advancements are undoubtedly changing the socio-economic balance between rich and poor.
In the not-so-distant future, Pinnacle Corporation offers the hope to escape death and Summit™ to a digital afterlife. However, it’s a luxury reserved only for the most affluent and influential.
Tom is the son of the first person to summit, the nephew of the man who heads up pinnacle. He’s set for life, but unhappy within his complacency. An unexpected visitor shatters the illusion of stability.
There are a few times, especially at the start where the pacing of the dialogue was painfully slow. While it’s usually critical to provide a lot of exposition when setting your play in a future dystopia, there were some moments when I felt the exposition was far too much.
For example, there’s an entire arc that introduces a love interest for the protagonist, which I felt added little. While it provides some character development, the time it takes to do so is somewhat excessive. Since the play centres on the main character’s struggle to make peace with his mother’s passing, I felt the expositional frontloading and added love interest detracted from this focus.
That being said, the pacing picks up towards the middle of the production and that’s when the narrative really comes alive. There’s much more substance in the latter half: Stronger dialogue and even more humour interactions between characters. Without really spoiling anything, the ending comes as a bit of a twist, complete with a gut-wrenching revelation. I honestly wasn’t enthralled when I first sat down, but came to really love this piece by its finale.
The acting was polished and the cast seemed to share a close rapport that was a treat to watch. While there were no bad performances, there was one that I believed to be the standout of the night. Nicole D’Amato gave a stellar performance as the scorned actress who magnificently turns on her keepers. D’Amato is a powerful onstage presence that you can’t help but pay attention to, showcasing a diverse range of emotions that she’s able to switch between seamlessly.
As far as set design goes, Bonds Beyond makes exceptional use of the intimate space in which it takes place. Using mixed media in the form of live action theatre and pre-recorded rear projections, this piece has a rather believable sci-fi futuristic feel to it. And while the number of stage props was few, the use of them was quite ingenious – using a chrome-finish microwave as a computer interface, for example. I was really impressed by set designer Cameron Kirk’s vision for this production.
Ultimately, Bonds Beyond takes a while to get to where it needs to go. But if you stick around for the voyage, you’re may just love where it ends up.
- Bonds Beyond is a playing Oct. 28 and 29 at the Array Space (155 Walnut Avenue)
- Tickets prices are $15 (plus fees) and are available online
- Approximate runtime is 90 minutes
Photo courtesy Glass Reflections Theatre Collective