It’s hard to describe Jennifer Mascall’s The Three Cornered Hat without revealing too much, but suffice to say it so full of surprises as it places the audience inside the dance.
In this hilarious performance the audience, sitting on two sides of a white stripe on the floor, are deeply involved with its five skillful dancers – Lara Barclay, Amber Funk Barton, Dario Dinuzzi, Billy Marchenski, and Chris Wright (Darcy McMurray will perform on Friday and Saturday) – dressed as old-fashioned school children with jeans, gilets, shirts, and glasses.
The piece begins with Marchenski telling a story standing in the middle of the unusual stage with a red notebook in hand. The performers are surrounded by dozens of other similar red notebooks that will become binoculars, hats, fishing poles, and at one point a barricade in the show.
The unusual setting in The Three Cornered Hat transforms the traditional audience point of view as performers use the entire space: in front, on the back, on the side, and even on top. For instance, towards the end of the piece as the dancers interpreted a ritual of sorts, they gradually reduced the performing space by creating lines of red tape on the white dance floor while repeating the same choreography. The result was brilliant: an ironic investigation of movement and space that the audience could view from diverse perspectives.
The Three Cornered Hat is not just a dance show, but rather it is an interdisciplinary performance that brings together text, video projections by Candelario Andrade and Sammy Chien, the voice of Barbara Adler as a storyteller, and music composed and played live by Stefan Smulovitz. The show was so rich in fact that there were moments where it is impossible to take in everything that was happening at the same time.
The performance was hilarious, mysterious and full of surprises as performers engaged with the audience. The contagious smiles of the dancers, particularly the innate irony of Dinuzzi and Barton, was delightful.
The Three Cornered Hat with choreography by Jennifer Mascall continues until April 11 at the Dance Centre (677 Davie St, Vancouver). Visit https://mascalldance.ca for tickets and information.