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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Theatre review: Ask/Tell: The Boler Project is a good conversation

In Ask/Tell: The Boler Project, theatre intern Julia Siedlanowska moves her mid-term theatre project inside a tiny trailer parked beside Pacific Theatre.

A new “show” every ten minutes, the audience of one is ushered into the trailer by the effervescent Siedlanowka. The rules for the ten minute interaction are contained in a notebook that she flips through for you to read. From there you must then decide if they will ask a question, or tell her something. The only rules are that it must be the truth and, just like in Vegas, what happens in the Boler trailer stays in the Boler trailer.

I can tell you I asked a question, but I can’t tell you what that question was, or Siedlanwoka’s response. I can say that her answer did open up the interaction for a somewhat deeper conversation than I was expecting.

As the ten minute moved on, I veered us away from the original question and was curious to know if anyone she didn’t know had joined her in the trailer. As it turned out, of the four “shows” prior to mine three were with people she knew and one with a complete stranger. Interestingly, Siedlanowka said she found little difference between her interaction with the stranger and the people she knew.

Siedlanowka told me the idea came from an interest in truth and lies, which I found somewhat surprising given one of only two rules was that you had to tell the truth. Limiting the answer or question to the truth somehow seemed counter-intuitive to that idea.

In her press materials Siedlanowka says Ask/Tell: The Boler Project is an exploration “in proximity and closeness between strangers” and a “gentle exercise in consent”. In a broad sense she is successful, but theatrically something is missing.

Ask/Tell: The Boler Project is little more than a conversation between two people. Our chat was interesting, and Siedlanowka is a giving conversationalist, but I wanted more.

Ask/Tell: The Boler Project created and performed by Julia Siedlanowska. A Stone’s Throw Productions presentation outside Pacific Theatre (1440 12 Ave East, Vancouver) until March 5 directly before the Hardline Productions presentation of Bright Blue Future which runs inside the venue. Call 604-616-7381 to reserve a time or visit for more information.

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