Theatre Review: e-DENTITY

On the Mirvish site e-DENTITY is described as "Integrating dialogue, movement, music, text, interactive projection, live web-casts and live on-line chat, the dazzlingly inventive e-DENTITY takes you on a humorous and thought-provoking web-surfing adventure. Like the cyberspace it inhabits, e-DENTITY doesn't have a traditional, linear dramatic structure."

I would agree with everything they say, except thought-provoking.

This comes from Theatre Gargantua, a theatre company that has always impressed me, but that I never imagined working with Mirvish. The company does long-term development of original pieces of Canadian theatre, with a focus on movement.

For this show I brought my partner John because he is a complete Internet addict. I asked him his overall impression and he said "Visually it was very good. It was very much like the Web - bits of really entertaining stuff but overall it doesn't go anywhere." The statement could mean that means the show met its goals of replicating a Web-surfing adventure, but for John the fact that there was no point to the show was what he liked least about it.

Personally I enjoyed it. I didn't have a problem with it not going anywhere, and kind of liked the mirroring of Web experiences. I enjoyed the unrelated vignettes but the way they tried to tie it all together with some digital entity that was the sum of the parts of humanity, that part felt a bit contrived, and generally annoyed me. I would have been much happier if it were all just allowed to be separate and the audience allowed to pick up on the common themes themselves.

When I asked John about his favourite part he said "Visually it was very impressive - The movement, set, lighting, sound, projections all worked together very well and were really cool." There's a reason he's mentioned the visual aspect twice, it really was a feast for the eyes. Not only did the show have a really solid design and incorporate lots of multi-media aspects, it also had lots of great movement. I particularly enjoyed the rant delivered while walking on the ceiling (lots of cables and harnesses were present in the production).

John actually missed one of my favourite parts of the show because it was at intermission while he was out getting some *ahem* 'fresh air'. During intermission the audience was encouraged to turn on their cell phones and text their answer to what they would do if they controlled the Internet and the answers were projected on the screen on stage. It was really cool to see the audience interacting with each other through a huge screen on stage.

Even though there were parts that annoyed me, overall I was really glad to have seen it because there were more parts that impressed me. I did find myself wondering though, if you weren't an Internet junkie, would it be as entertaining? For instance, I can't imagine my grandmother watching this and enjoying it at all. Not even my dad. Another reason why it's impressive that it's at Mirvish I guess, usually they mount pretty broad appeal shows.

I guess we can't test the theory of "can you enjoy it if you're not an Internet person" by asking for comments here, because by virtue of reading this on a blog, you're already an Internet person. So, if anyone happens to go with someone who's not an Internet person, let me know if it worked for them.


- e-DENTITY Runs until May 20th at the Royal Alexander Theatre (260 King St. W.)
- Show times are: Tuesday - Saturday 8pm and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm
- Ticket prices range from $20 to $65

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