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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Theatre review: All Good Things provides two different experiences

There are two different experiences going on simultaneously in the Boca del Lupo presentation of All Good Things: those that watch and those that participate. From all indications, those that participate walk away with an entirely different experience. Problem is, only one person can participate at each show.

[pullquote]This isn’t a normal conversation though, as Barton touches on the metaphysical as much as the physical aspect of what happened to him.[/pullquote]Originally developed as the ultimate in micro-performances, with just performer and a single audience member, Bruce Barton’s All Good Things is a meditative rather than expository recounting of a true life event in Barton’s life.

A single audience member is chosen in advance (willingly) to join performer Martin Julien at a small table, lit by a single table lamp. The rest of the small ten member audience watch from a line of chairs placed a couple metres away. Holding hands with the chosen audience member, Julien converses with the volunteer in a combination of written dialogue and improvisation. In an effort to keep the conversation from being one-sided, Julien asks questions of his volunteer and while much of it is successful there were times where it felt a bit forced as Julien had to delicately push the responses back into the narrative.  Julien’s delivery is calm and soothing, an eerie contrast to what actually inspired the work. Further highlighting the fact this isn’t any normal conversation is the playwright’s brushes with the metaphysical as much as the physical aspect of what happened to him.

In describing the work I am purposely attempting to stay away from any spoilers, as the biggest part of the experience as a member of the audience is in assembling the fragments of Barton’s text. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to keep the audience fully engaged, even for its very quick thirty minute runtime. On the night we attended, Vancity Buzz arts and culture editor Cecilia Lu was in the hot-seat. You can read her review, from what appears to be a far more enriching and visceral perspective.  If you go, you may want to take up her suggestion of volunteering yourself.

All Good Things. Written and directed by Bruce Barton. A Boca del Lupo presentation of a Vertical City Performance production. On stage at The Anderson Street Space until June 29. Visit for tickets and information.

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