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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Theatre review: Balls is uncomfortably entertaining

More improv than scripted, Balls is an experiment in the experience of risk. It is a deeply uncomfortable, yet fascinating experience that you won’t soon forget.

Developed and directed by Cory Haas and Gilles Poulin-Denis, Balls invites the audience to share in an hour long experiment where seven actors explore the meaning of risk.

For Tiffany Anderson, the risk is to write and perform stand-up.  Julian Legere gives the directors total access to his carefully controlled private life. Cory Haas struts about naked save for a box of strategically placed plastic balls. Afraid to be alone, Caitlin McFarlane is abandoned onstage and told to perform a half-remembered scene from another show. Andrew Wade orders pizza for the very first time from an audience member’s phone. They even ask David C. Jones to step onto the stage to give a live review of the performance. The challenges are as diverse as the performers and while the level of “risk” each person faces varies, the show remains engaging for the full sixty minute run-time.

That said, the show is a bit of a mess. Some segments go on too long, while others are not developed at all. There is a point where they recite the contractual restrictions given to them by the rEvolver festival which offers no payoff as far as the theme of “risk” is concerned. However, for a show that was created four days ago, it does a surprisingly good job of getting your blood pumping.

Balls is more a shared experience than theatre. The actors are not acting, and so the rest of us become more witness than audience – a distinction well worth exploring. It provokes feelings of discomfort and anxiety which are hard to enjoy, but which offer an intriguingly vicarious form of personal risk-assessment. What are you afraid of? What scares you? And how would you face it?

Balls developed and directed by Cory Haas and Gilles Poulin-Denis. No further performances, but plays as part of the 2015 rEvolver Theatre Festival which continues at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver) until May 24. Visit for tickets and information.

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