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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Trust (FTA)

(Photo Credit: Heiko Shafer)

TRUST at the FTA
I suspect reaction to Trust will be mixed
by Joel Fishbane

It’s possible that a new theatrical language will be needed to discuss Trust, the multi-disciplinary hybrid that opened the Festival TransAmériques on Thursday night. Part dance, part theatre, part performance art, Trust is a show that borrows liberally from the theatrical pantheon – Brecht, Beckett, musicals – even as it discards the usual annoyances like plot, story, characters or a dramatic arc. Trust merrily flies in the face of all traditions, which makes for a fascinating artistic experiment. Whether it’s also an entertaining night at the theatre, though, will probably be a matter of taste.

As might be expected...some scenes are stronger then others.

Produced by Berlin’s Schaubune Am Lehniner Platz, Trust was developed by the multi-talented ensemble under the leadership of Falk Richter and Anouk Van Dijk. Constructed as a nightmarish revue of sketches, monologues and dance, Trust explores how our lack of ability to trust our politicians and bankers has infected our personal relationships, leading to both spiritual and verbal impotence. 

This impotence forces the performers to express physically what can’t be expressed in words. Conversely, when the performers do have something to say, their monologues descend into incoherent verbal rants, reminiscent of Lucky’s monologue in Waiting for Godot. Here we have impotence of another kind: the inability to express our own thoughts. 

...the woman next to me was sound asleep, as were several people nearby. 

Performed in German with French and English surtitles, Trust definitely goes on too long – it’s almost two hours – and suffers from a lot of repetition of ideas. The lack of any dramatic structure means there is no dramatic development; the show is one long stream of consciousness that bounces from scene to scene. As might be expected, this means that some scenes are stronger then others. One of the better pieces involves a boyfriend invoking two dancers to silence his girlfriend’s hyperbolic confession of infidelity and theft. But the strongest moment came in the scene where a motivational speaker attempts to encourage his pupils to bark as a means of releasing their anger with the world. Most can only meow, leading to a beautiful solo dance by Nina Wollny, who uses her body perfectly to express the rage boiling within. 

I suspect reaction to Trust will be mixed – the woman next to me was sound asleep, as were several people nearby. But when the show ended, most of the sold out crowd leapt to their feet and were still applauding when I left the auditorium three curtain calls later. Experimental, bizarre and wholly unique, Trust is probably the epitome of what the FTA hopes to bring to Montreal. There probably isn’t another show quite like it and will appeal to any audience who enters the theatre with an open mind and a patient soul.

The final performance of TRUST will play on May 27th at Theatre Jean Duceppe in Place des Arts. The FTA continues until June 11.  

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