Artists feel things deeply and are usually emotionally complex people. However, when they want to talk about their lives or process in a script, they have to go beyond exploring how hard it is to be an artist. Shows about artists, and those that are most successful, are an opportunity to reveal something intricate and revelatory about their process or touch on other human truths about life, with the artistry being a backdrop to the story. Tina Milo’s The Village misses that opportunity.
Milo is a striking woman, a warm actor with a sense of humour, and a great jazzy singing voice. She even plays the accordion. In The Village, she has created a theatre piece about her life, and the setbacks both in her relationships and as an actor.
The story is told methodically and with limited information. We are meant to get the essence of her lost dreams and hopes, but no details. This is where the show starts to lose some of its edge, some connection. What we do get is material we have heard before, including a Crisis Line gag (“Obsessive compulsive? Please press 1 repeatedly”), or in trying to make a profound revelation by saying things like “I couldn’t do it alone, it takes a village”. The result is a betrayal of the overall sentiment.
Themes and images are repeated without clearly expanding or deepening the story. At one point Milo covers her whole body in a black blanket and then later in the 55-minute play covers her whole body in a sheer red sheet.
The motivations for the show are genuine; Milo has a dynamic presence, but the overall experience was best summed up by my companion who said, “I don’t think she did the show she thought she did.”
The Village conceived and performed by Tina Milo. Directed by Dijana Milošević. A Firehall Arts Centre presentation on stage at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova St, Vancouver) through February 28. Visit https://firehallartscentre.ca for tickets and information.