Lacuna, now playing as part of the virtual 2021 Next Stage Community Booster, asks us, “Is theatre even theatre without the exchange of energy?”
Writer Chantal Forde is joined by Mandy Roveda, Juliet Jones-Rodney, and Trina Moyan, in an on-stage representation of a Zoom call, each actress holding a frame around her face as they try to create together.
This attempt at creation is halted by general pandemic malaise and technical difficulties, and their private anxieties. These include the desire for connection vs. the reality of latency, the wearying need to constantly combat white supremacy, the challenge of finding individuality rather than representing a larger community, and the frustrating lack of space for women’s bodies.
The anxieties manifest in the performer literally stepping out of the “box” and delivering a poetic, creative and rhythmic monologue. Each displays a facility in switching between mundane chat and these heightened sections, and Jones-Rodney’s delivery of her need to have a “checklist” before speaking her mind is quietly devastating.
“I think we’ve got a lot to say,” says one character of the foursome, and they do. It is a large number of issues to cover in nine minutes. A potential problem with deliberately topical theatre is, ironically, that same feeling of latency one character explores. The lag time between developing and producing a show and its delivery to an audience can mean the issues it addresses may feel overly familiar in an age of instantly-published think-pieces and videos.
We absolutely need to continue talking about these issues; they are of vital importance, and not merely bound to the here and now. What I yearned for, though, was more of that “exchange of energy.” I wanted to connect more with the characters or their stories, beyond simply being in fierce agreement with the message of the piece.
This is a lot to ask for in fewer than ten minutes, yet it might just be a matter of focus – something in short supply at the moment. In that vein, the short does succeed in capturing that overwhelmed feeling that many of us experience day after day.
The last moments touch on the value of listening empathetically to cut through a technological divide. While this is given an affecting symbolic representation, it might be nice to see it in action beyond suggestion. I would have liked to see the impact of these characters practicing that empathy to counteract their loneliness and anxiety. Even when they speak in chorus, simultaneously, the characters feel separated. Much like the hard work ahead, this is a deliberate beginning, not an end.
- Next Stage Community Booster is a virtual festival. Once you buy a pass, you are able to access content behind the website paywall.
- Ticket packages range from Tip What You Can to $100 depending on what you choose to access. See the website for ticketing information. (This, and 5 other short productions, can be accessed through the Theatre Shorts stream for $25 or is included with the Community Booster Membership for $100)
- All digital content will be available as of 12:01 am on Thursday, January 21, 2021, and will be available until 11:59 pm on Sunday, January 31, 2021.
- Download the digital brochure
Photo of Juliet Jones-Rodney, Chantal Forde, and Trina Moyan provided by Toronto Fringe