I’m always signing myself up for dance shows. Why? I’m not knowledgeable about dance. I’m not even particularly into it. It’s the challenge, I guess, that I crave—to test my boundaries, explore unfamiliar forms of expression. There’s always something, other than the dancing itself, that I’m drawn to when I decide to experience a show like SMASH Entertainment’s Touch of Psycho at the Al Green Theatre, part of the Toronto Fringe. In this case, I was intrigued by the notion of delving into the mind of a psychopath.
The synopsis describes the piece as representing some distinct personality characteristics typically associated with psychopathic behaviour. I’m not going to comment on this because that wasn’t what I took away from the show.
There are eight dancers, an equal mix of male and female. One particular male is set apart from the others. He is dressed differently and is obviously meant to be the focal point—our psychopath. Sebastian Hirtenstein’s performance carries substantial weight and I found it hard to look away from his urgent and frantic body language.
During several scenes, ranging from relatively naturalistic to extremely abstract, we are given glimpses into his experiences. There seems to be a play on internal versus external realities. He seems withdrawn, an outcast from the outside world, as the others clearly distance themselves from him with varying degrees of disgust, fear and curiosity. Inside, though, he is full of chaos and torment.
Sometimes he seems a puppeteer, controlling their every move. Then the dynamic changes and he’s suddenly at the mercy of these manipulative forces—forces that I gathered were figments of his conflicted psyche.
Emilio Colalillo’s choreography is fast paced and electrifying. Set to pulsing music and moody lighting, the movements are hypnotic and exhilarating. The dancers handle the jagged rhythms gracefully, so even moments of chaos seem purposeful.
While most of the movement suggests harsh and unforgiving inner and outer worlds, there are some brief moments of gentleness and human affection. They don’t last long though, and always end in some form of violence.
I doubt I’ve taken as much from this performance as someone who is genuinely enthusiastic about dance. I was, however, transported to a dark and primal place. On the whole, the spectacle of watching human bodies transform emotion into a visceral landscape resonated with me, but there were times when the visuals were more stunning than evocative.
- Touch of Psycho is playing until July 11 at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
July 04 at 09:15 PM
July 06 at 06:45 PM
July 08 at 01:45 PM
July 09 at 11:00 PM
July 10 at 02:15 PM
July 11 at 08:00 PM
Image provided by the company.