Sunday, October 26, 2014

Helen Lawrence

Helen Lawrence was a multimedia film noir theatre production. Very unique!

Set in Vancouver just after World War 2, it layered live action filming with computer-generated simulations to create a full cinematic experience.  I felt as though I were watching a film, but the action was unfolding real time.

Three to four cameras were positioned on the stage to catch the actors' performances, which were then projected onto a full-size movie screen. Visually, the audience saw the cameras and operators' silhouettes, the actors on the lower frame spotlit, and the full screen.  Full backgrounds were layered in to complete the staging and final image. While I could choose to look at one or two elements, the projected image was the one that drew the eye. The Big Screen, both real and unreal.

Very captivating, and I didn't really tire of the effect. Conceptually fantastic!

The performances were strong, costumes great.

The stage play embodied film noir perfectly. Some classics include Mildred Pierce, A Touch of Evil, Double Indemnity, and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

The femme fatale, bleak subject matter, inky shadows, sexual motivations, dark undercurrents. Scholars argue about the exact period of classic American film noir, but generally place it 1945-1958.  Then came the  homages and neo-noirs, so the genre has never really disappeared. Before the performance began we sat in a brief talk given by a professor from the Cinema Studies Institute at U of T about the qualities of film noir. I'd never really thought before about how the femme fatale in these films coincided with the rise of Post War feminism, but several dissertations have been written on the subject. 

Rob and I saw this Friday night with Kaarina and Mike. After a long week, I found myself actually nodding off during the play, adding even more to the dreamlike quality of the theatre production but making the complex storyline even more difficult to follow.  Preceding the show with a visit to  Pravda Vodka House at Happy Hour (and a couple of martinis) certainly contributed to my drowsiness. Delicious nibbles included smoked salmon canapes (complementary), charcuterie, mushrooms, blini-like-crepes, Russian meatballs... tasty indeed!

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