Enough Rope wins the prize for the most perplexing show I’ve reviewed for SummerWorks this year. It is a performance that delves into the struggle of the artist and I thought it fitting that I should invite my friend Ilene, a conceptual portrait painter.
The Lower Ossington Theatre Studio stage is transformed into what I understood to be a circus space. Ilene read it as more of a Southern cave cult. We were the last to sit and found a spot on cushioned burlap sacks on the hay-covered floor.
The entire show is divided loosely into four parts: “The Bound Man”, “Josephine The Singer”, “The Hunger Artist” and “The Metamorphosis”. Each segment is physical, dynamic, immediate and immersive.
The through line is art and the absurdity of existence. As an audience member, you have to work hard to assign meaning. The cast does not hold your hand through the process. Such is life, too.
After the show, a group of young people turned to each other and asked, “Did you understand any of that?” Ilene asked me the same question. She likened me to a diplomat of the theatre world and assumed I would be able to interpret the elite theatre language of the performance.
The performers tell the audience outright that the material is not fully accessible: “People say our art is not for them.” The performers also tell us that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible.
For me, Enough Rope is a thinking piece rather than a feeling piece and the reward comes from how much interpreting you’re willing to do after the fact. The longer I’m away from the experience and the more I try to put into words what I experienced, the more I enjoy the performance.
It is definitely not a play for everyone. It is an exercise in mental gymnastics and provides great fodder for people who enjoy digesting absurdist and existentialist concepts.
- Enough Rope plays through August 18th at Lower Ossington Theatre (100A Ossington Ave.)
- All tickets $15. Money-saving passes are available. For more information, and to order online, see the festival website.
- Remaining performances: Monday August 12, 7:30pm; Tuesday August 13, 2:30pm; Wednesday August 14, 7:30pm; Friday August 16, 7:30pm; Saturday August 17, 10:00pm
Photo of Michael Bradley, Zoe Sweet, Tosha Doiron and Nicole St. Martin provided by Michael De Sadeleer