by Lucy Allen
It was entirely accidental that I ended up in the line for Daniel Barrow’s Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry, currently playing in the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace as part of the Summerworks Festival. I had intended to see another show also playing there, but due to my inability to read a simple ticket, ended up missing out.
Not wanting to disappoint my show partner, Shawn, I desperately asked if there were any other shows scheduled and soon found myself staring a giant projector screen, not entirely sure what I was about to see. Asking someone next to me about the show, I got the explanation “It’s that one that’s all done on projector transparencies”.
I tend to get nervous when it comes to performance art. Whenever I hear the word, I either picture someone throwing rotten food around a stage while reciting nursery rhymes or something that is so over my head that I feel more stupid than anyone else around me. Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry, luckily, is delightful proof that I need to stop generalizing.
As the lights dimmed and the first vivid drawings slid into place, we were plunged into the world of an art student turned janitor/garbage man constantly looking for meaning in the mediocrity of his life. He does so by mostly by quoting Helen Keller and by spying on random strangers in order to construct a phone book chronicling their lives.
The show is animated entirely using projector transparencies. This may seem like a simple enough concept, but watching Barrow’s artwork constantly moving and layering over top of each other was fascinating to watch.
Using even the simplest of effects created complex scenes, and both Shawn and I were impressed with the smoothness in which it all happened. I can’t imagine the amount of time that must have gone into practicing changing all of those sheets. The imagery is also both beautiful and bizarre, and I got sucked into the story easily except for a couple of weak points.
The story almost seems secondary to the animation, and is narrated flatly by Barrow himself. The flat delivery to me, though, suited the melancholic nature of the protagonist. Shawn also found Amy Linton’s score particularly noteworthy, complementing the story nicely and I have to agree with him.
Towards the end, Barrow tends to get repetitive in his narration and visually the story seems to land on a somewhat sudden note. Nonetheless, I left the theatre that night moved and secretly glad that an accident turned into an engaging and transforming theatre experience.
August 14th- 8:30 pm
August 15th- 2:30pm
-Tickets are $10.
-Photograph provided by Summerworks Website