Drowning in big ideas and hard truths could be a real downer. Luckily, Luxury Goods’ Consumption Patterns – playing at the Factory Theatre as part of the 2020 Next Stage Theatre Festival -delivers a social deep-dive into despair with a sharp sense of humour and a welcome sprinkling of hope.
It’s not about the plot, but about the journey in Consumption Patterns. Playwright Kevin Shea, with director Jill Harper, delivers an exploration of growing social and environmental concerns and realities.
Jennifer Dzialoszynski, Sochi Fried, Ben Sanders, and Jonathan Tan take on multiple roles as characters struggling to find what they want, deliver life lessons, or buying experiences in the world.
They dance to a steady beat on stage, echoing each other dressed all in red. The lighting colours behind them are vibrant for their journeys in helicopters and airplanes, represented by the chairs. Research serves as the catalyst for a drug-fuelled, choreographed journey around the world and beyond.
They are also the questions playwright Shea picks at, giving the audience a chance to hear the familiar and recognizable voices—guilt about using too much water but liking showers, struggles with intimacy—before pulling back to tackle larger, and then larger still, social and environmental catastrophes.
In other words, the dilemmas faced by the world become more than the individual experiences, spiralling quickly into things that are too big to even think about. In only an hour, the audience is taken full circle, from the extremes of making change.
While this might sound depressing, the material is sprinkled with fun. Drugs for chimpanzee erections, a lawyer (played with hilarious intensity by Fried) who wants a trophy-husband, cruise attendants sucking out spider poison give a lot of laughs.
More importantly to me, however, was that rather than getting lost in how vast the subject is, Shea, the cast, and director Harper find the hope in it through a quiet, heartwarming ending.
Consumption Patterns doesn’t lose sight of the little things and, for that, makes itself something more.
- 2020 Next Stage Theatre Festival performances are being held at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St.)
- Single tickets are $18 (tickets purchased online or by phone are subject to a $3 fee), Money-saving passes are also available. See website for ticketing information.
- Showtimes on the Consumption Patterns listing
- Audience advisory: contains gunshots, strobe lights, sexual content, and strong language
Photo of Ben Sanders, Jonathan Tan, Jennifer Dzialoszynski, and Sochi Fried by Samantha Hurley