Dominion Hotel, 210 Abbott St.
January 25 - February 6
604-254-0707, ext. 1 or email@example.com or
The great thing about Radix Theatre is that you always know you’re
going to get something different from your regular theatre experience
at their shows. Different doesn’t necessarily mean better,
but given the choice I’d always rather have adventurous than
dull. I’m pretty sure Radix didn’t have anything to
do with this, but even parking was a departure from the usual when
two gentlemen on Cordova Street helpfully offered to watch my car
for me in exchange for a small fee.
Final Viewing begins in Gastown’s Lamplighter pub, where
Dan Goodman presides over a wake for John Doe, a denizen of the
area who gave his life in the street outside the hotel a year ago,
saving Dan by pushing him out of the way of a taxi that then killed
Mr. Doe. After we sing “Danny Boy” in memoriam, Dan
explains how that event changed his life. He realized that he lacked
this stranger’s apparent charity and empathy—especially
ironic in that he had ignored John Doe’s request for spare
change earlier on the fateful day. So Dan has founded the International
Centre for Active Goodness in the hopes of stimulating altruism —and
indirectly repaying his debt.
From the pub we move to the building next door and take the elevator
up to the Centre. Photos of various heroes of goodness decorate
the walls, from Sting to Martin Luther King. Dan lectures us, with
visual aids, on the meaning of the Good Samaritan story, and we
join in a Rosicrucian chant to help physiologically open us to
the goodness within. Then things get weird.
Suddenly Dan leaves and is replaced by another man. We follow
him to a room down the hall where he tells stories of his childhood
while two TV screens alternately show Dan in the Centre addressing
an audience, and scenes from Italy with subtitles suggesting that
this second man’s wife is there cheating on him. Man 2 then
phones Dan, whom we watch speaking with him on the TV. Eventually
we follow Man 2 through an opening in the wall back into the Centre,
but Dan is gone. We look out the window at the street below and
see Dan lying there, a taxi apparently having hit him. All this
is accompanied by eerie electronic sound.
Soon Dan returns and the second man leaps on him. They wrestle
in ambiguous poses that suggest both caring and strangling. Man
2 apparently dies and Dan walks off down a corridor, on video,
undressing as he goes. The end.
The problem with conceptually adventurous theatre for me is that
content is often sacrificed to form. The form here is certainly
clever, and sometimes very interesting—the movement between
buildings, the scene on the street which we view through a window
from above, the simultaneous live action and video. And the content
has potential. There are serious issues here concerning personal
responsibility and the translation of good intentions into good
deeds. But none is ever treated seriously. As well, the lengthy
segment in the second room with the second man (whose identity
was never clear to me) seems a non sequitur. I enjoyed some of
the staging, the video, and the choreography of the confrontation
at the end. But I was left with only aesthetic admiration for an
experience that felt intellectually superficial and emotionally
When I got back to my car I found it unscathed. Active Goodness
is not just a concept.
Radix has added one additional performance to the run of Final
Sunday night, February 6, 8pm.