by Dana Lacey
I’m glad I choose to see rAiz’n the sun ensemble’s SummerWorks performance of The Centre at the peak of one of the hottest days of this otherwise rain-drenched summer. As the lights dimmed at The Factory Theatre, the air was filled with the soothing, almost-breezy humming of worship. I forgot my discomfort and instantly slipped into the play. Two groups of women were introduced: five from the past (which is actually our present) and four from a thousand years in the future who are tasked with stopping a worker’s rebellion. They decide to travel back and examine a group of women who’ve agreed to exchange their opinions for money in The Centre: what we 21st-century people call a focus group.
I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry. This play doesn’t take the tired route of so many time travel tales–“look they use books made of trees, how quaint”–instead, the researchers are set to figure out what makes these women happy (money? love? the right pair of bluejeans?) in hopes of preventing a revolution back in 3009. Classisim is the discrimination of choice: the Executive class are served by the lowly Coach class.
I appreciate that The Centre was short enough to hold a hazy audience captive. And somehow they managed to fit nine beautiful women onstage without overpowering each other. I got a little lost in the often abstract little dances and slight costume changes, but I did enjoy the extra layer their feet-stomping added to the ominous undertones of the production.
And while they relied somewhat on stereoptypes to get their point across (the uptight feminist, the ditz, the bitch, etc.), my favourite part was when the researchers used some future-magic to reveal the neurosies behind each one, and lo-and-behold, I saw a little of myself in all of them.
Photo courtesy of SummerWorks Festival
The Centre is playing at the Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., Toronto