Radix Theatre
Dominion Hotel, 210 Abbott St.
January 25 - February 6
604-254-0707, ext. 1 or 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 void.

When I got back to my car I found it unscathed. Active Goodness is not just a concept.

Jerry Wasserman

Radix has added one additional performance to the run of Final Viewing:
Sunday night, February 6, 8pm.


last updated: Thursday, February 3, 2005 3:14 PM
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