Sex Tape Project, a series of three plays in Toronto, explores intimacy and voyeurism
Voyeurism: I dig it. My favourite Hitchcock film is Rear Window. It’s no stretch to imagine myself getting in trouble for seeing something I shouldn’t have through a pair of binoculars. fu-GEN Theatre’s Sex Tape Project appeals to that part of me that yearns to see private lives unfold behind distant windows.
This theatrical experiment gives its limited audience (of only about 15 people) a pair a binoculars and headphones. The blinds go up and three hotel room windows light up across the street. Depending on the particular headphones you choose, you hear the dialogue from one of three scenarios that play out simultaneously.
Each forty-minute play is written by one of three playwrights (Adrienne Wong, Donald Woo and David Yee) and performed by five cast members (Kevin Chew, Gwenlyn Cumyn, Isabel Kanaan, Benny Min and Louisa Zhu). The action takes us from room to room and the pre-recorded audio is synced to this action.
The performances are very broad, as is the writing. Each text has been crafted to match the same action and provide a new context for it. When you see all three on the same evening, it’s rather intriguing to reflect upon how differently you’ve perceived the same behaviour.
I wasn’t particularly invested in the two high stakes crime scenarios and found them often hard to follow. One involves gambling apps, illegal stuff on the internet, suitcases full of money, lots of “are you in or out” type dialogue…and it’s all a blur to me. The other, a funnier and more clever script, is a heist story. Both are more about the plot than the feels.
My favourite storyline involves a husband and wife who have hired a prostitute to help them sort through their intimacy issues. It had, for me, the most emotional complexity of the three stories and featured the only characters I truly cared about.
The action (in all of the scenarios) was most compelling when the characters are struggling with issues of familiarity and trust. How important is familiarity where trust is concerned? Can people who have just met have as much or more trust in each other than people who have known each other for years? And what role does intimacy play in the phenomenon of trust?
From such a removed vantage point, I found myself struggling to find intimacy, to connect to the action. The presentation seems designed to remove intimacy in order to examine it. That examination isn’t as thorough or complex for my taste, but it’s certainly entertaining.
As the title would suggest, yes, there are some sexy parts. If you choose to use the provided binoculars for these segments you may feel like a creeper, but that’s part of the experience—by design, I think.
I would suggest seeing all three shows. They’re not very long, but each starts on the hour, so it’s just shy of a three-hour commitment. The seats are not ideal for a three-hour sitting, but you get about fifteen to twenty minutes of stretchy time (and some refreshments) between shows.
David Yee’s concept is very strong; it is, in fact, the driving force of this presentation. I’d love to see this sort of thing done again, but with more subtle and complex characterizations.
- Sex Tape Project plays at the Centre for Social Innovation (215 Spadina Ave.) until December 6, 2015.
- Shows run Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm
- Single tickets are $15 and Three-Play passes are $38
- Tickets can be purchased online (Limited seating)
Photo by Jordan Probst