Backwater is a Windrow performance, created and directed by Amber Borotsik and Jesse Gervais. As the name suggests, this performance deals with themes such as northern Alberta’s isolation, urban sprawl/stagnation, and echo chamber like political rhetoric. This presentation is a crosspollination of dance, theatre, and sound art that is a striking sensory experience for the audience. At times, the action is slowed down to a crawl and audience members are forced back into thinking and making their own meaning, experiencing the performance as they would a living painting. A challenging performance, Backwater defies the dance/theatre dichotomy and disrupts narrative expectations.

There are three characters interwoven through this performance beginning with a power-suit donning professional woman portrayed by Amber Borotsik. This complex character is struggling with the contradictions of contemporary womanhood: goddess on the inside, business professional on the outside. She struggles to keep the two sections of her self separate, and dances and dramatizes the very impurity of our daily performances of self. Dancing that ranges from lyrical to staccato, and character performances that range from soft and loving to under-confident and apologetic, this character is a dissatisfied woman in a world that values competition, business savvy, and power.

Jesse Gervais portrays a man sent to clean out the cabin of his grandfather and is confronted with the isolation of Alberta’s north and the beastly, raw power of nature. He transforms into the very embodiment of depression and rage as the loneliness of the north atrophies his ability to have human connections. Gervais’ performances of strength and character are exciting for the audience, who watch as he morphs into and fuses with nature.

Richard Lee Hsi plays at first an awkward and bulky oil patch worker who survives on energy drinks and other convenience items. He is a young man whose earning power has grown past his own maturity and he has condensed his feelings of success and connection into a brand new truck, which is stolen by Borotsik’s inner goddess. His character portrays the arrogance of cash-laden youth and the violence of self-importance that comes with it. Lee Hsi’s dancing is delicious to watch as his character fluidly encounters the space and creates a surprisingly frustrated romance with Borotsik’s character.

The youthful pleasure of running is woven through the performance with running women in nude who coax the characters to join them and feel the joy of moving their bodies with reckless abandon.

This performance is an intervention into the common experiences of Alberta and Edmonton and a thrilling live performance.

Five stars out of five

Backwater plays at the Catalyst theatre until April 17th



more in Theatre Review     |     posted Apr 12th, 2011 at 2:02pm     

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