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Theatre Gargantua presents e-DENTITY

When I first got the press release regarding Theatre Gargantua's Toronto premiere of e-DENTITY I feared that I would end up seeing an episode of HACK/Sign put on stage - essentially a show about people who cannot deal with their real lives so they go on-line and create new ones in the midst of a fantasy role-playing game.

In some ways, I was not far off the mark. Being online is like taking part in a fantasy-role playing game only without the dragons and swords. e-DENTITY is an interdisciplinary production about the powerlessness and facelessness of people on the web, even when there is a web-cam. In e-DENTITY we get to see the people behind the mice, and web-cams, and stupid chatroom names.

This production's strengths are in the monologues and dialogue, in the dance and the physicality. I liked how the performers have made use their bodies and their props; the mouse cord/computer chair sequence was beautiful, if a bit long. The digital art was stunning, albeit hard on the eyes at times and the performers did an excellent job of integrating their movements with what was being digitally produced on the screen.

In truth, the greatest weakness I found was in performers use of voice -- i.e. the vocal soundscaping. It was too polished and musical theatre-y: at times, I thought I was at a Nylons concert backed by Manteca. It just didn't sound right to me. Given that this show was about electronia and online behavior, an Art of Noise approach would have made more sense.

In the end, this production - with the online politicking, drama-queening, and power tripping - left me feeling like I had seen it before.

Perhaps it is because I still live it.

e-DENTITY, written by Michael Spence and conceived by Jacquie P.A. Thomas, is playing at at Artword Theatre, 75 Portland St. (East of Bathurst, South of King) until to November 13, 2005. Wed to Sat @ 8pm $20 to $25, Sun at 2:30pm Pay-What-You-Can. For ticket reservations/information call: 416-260-4660 or email info@theatregargantua.ca


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