Review: I Send You This Cadmium Red (Canadian Stage and Art of Time Ensemble)

It’s not a play; it’s not a standard story that you can easily follow along. It has elements of dance, movement and spoken word against bright colourful projections all set to live orchestrated music. Different is an understatement, you have to see it to really understand it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first walked into the Berkeley Street Theatre to witness I Send You This Cadmium Red so I simply allowed myself to be taken where the performance was going to take me. It turned out to be a rather unexpected ride.

The production is done in two parts: the first is a dance; a pas de deux entitled Soudain l’Hiver Dernier, choreographed by James Kudelka to the song “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” by Gavin Bryers. The music is incredibly haunting, almost disturbingly so leaving me with a distinct uneasy feeling that added greatly to the dance performance.

The dance performed by two male dancers, Michael Sean Marye and Luke Garwood, from Art of Time Ensemble, depict an intricate struggle; a power play of sorts controlling then carrying the other. Arms sweeping over the other’s shoulders before slipping away, an assisted floor foot spin – elements portraying vulnerability and dependency. The beautiful thing about dance is being able to take what you will from what you see. My date, Bob, was instantly moved by his interpretation of a relationship struggle. For me, it seemed a lover’s quarrel falling apart. Take what you will.

Second is I Send You This Cadmium Red, the show that lends its title to the whole production. Once again, set to the eerie and provocative music of Gavin Bryers that features a series of correspondence letters between painter and novelist John Berger and filmmaker John Christie portrayed by John Fitzgerald and Julian Richings. The letters combine to create a dialogue between the two set to active paintings by Bruce Alcock that act as visual interpretations on the screens behind. The two actors flank a small string ensemble that provides the musical accompaniment.

The letters center on the interpretations of colour. Red is a statement that requires acknowledgement. Blue is erotic. Black is translucent darkness, layers that cover everything. Yellow takes on neither form nor shape, but adheres like a stain to what it touches, absorbing the properties of its host. The letters gradually begin to speak to me; invoking thoughts and associations I never before considered but now perceive to be quite effective.

The show is innovative and moving, unnerving at times yet still sensual and provocative that connects on an unexpectedly emotional level. It begs a response that evolves into a conversation piece after the audience leaves their seats and certainly well worth experiencing.


– I Send You This Cadmium Red is
– directed by Daniel Brooks
– choreographed by James Kudelka
– written by John Berger and John Christie
– music by Gavin Bryers
– featuring performances by Michael Sean Marye, Luke Garwood, John Fitzgerald, and Julian Richings

– Screening at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street), performances run from October 10 – 22. All shows begin at 8 pm with matinee shows on Saturday October 15, Wednesday October 19 and Saturday October 22. Matinees begin at 2 pm except Wednesday, 1:30 pm.

– Ticket prices range from $27 – $49 and can be purchased online at Canadian Stage.

Photo of Julian Richings by John Lauener