That the metaphor isn’t exactly clear is part of the great struggle for anyone watching the play
With a nod and wink to the work of Beckett and Sartre, Bifurcate Me opened at Centaur’s Wildside Festival to kind laughs and some bewildered applause. This probably isn’t all that surprising for a show whose title most people can’t define. For the record, bifurcate is a fancy word for the fork in the road: it can refer to the split in rivers, blood vessels or scientific systems.
...we’re in the land of theatre of the absurd, which means everything’s outlandish and the experiment might just be a metaphor for something else.
This last is of particular relevance to the characters of Bifurcate Me: the entire show focuses on Matt (Andy Massingham) and Colette (Nathaly Charrette) as they struggle to survive a clinical trial designed to prove that entropy affects all systems, including human relationships. Of course, we’re in the land of theatre of the absurd, which means everything’s outlandish and the experiment might just be a metaphor for something else. We may be in Hell. Or the disembodied voice of the scientist may just be some reference to God.
That the metaphor isn’t exactly clear is part of the great struggle for anyone watching the play and I suspect any interpretation will be the source of a great divide – or bifurcation, if you will. The play takes place in 1972, allowing the creators to bring in the Munich Olympics and discussions of the Russia-Canada hockey series. There’s talk of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics and Matt and Colette even go into their pathetic love lives. And there are shades of Waiting for Godot, with Matt and Colette as stand-ins for Beckett’s immortal tramps, participating in their own series of pratfalls and vaudevillian acts. But unlike Beckett, the writers here have generally failed to convey a coherent vision.
Both actors do deserve applause for surviving the performance: they collide and fall for practically the entire show with only a few breaks in-between. Despite their obvious exhaustion, they remained enthusiastic performers and were definitely the show’s saving grace: Massingham especially showed a deft comic timing, both verbally and physically. But in the end, Bifurcate Me diverged into so many ideas that it was hard for me to become truly involved in the action.
There are a lot of ideas here, and some of them are good, but for the most part Bifurcate Me spends most of its time fighting to keep from being crushed by its own ambitions.
Experimental, conceptual and highly meta-theatrical, Bifurcate Me may make more enemies then friends. But these features also make it the very breed of the show that the Wildside Festival was created to promote.
Bifurcate Me continues at the Wildside Festival until January 14, 2012. 514.288.3161.