Lab Rats-- Forcier Stage Works at Hub 14 in Toronto

Lab Rats

Forcier Stage Works

Choreographer: Marie France Forcier

Dancers: Brendan Wyatt, Heather Berry-McPhail, Molly Johnson

January 9-12 2013

Hub 14, 14 Markham Street, Toronto

A DanceWorks Co-Works Series Event



Choreographer Marie France Forcier transforms Hub 14 into a laboratory, where she explores within a small confined space the coping mechanisms of dancers, both in isolation and in contact with others. We take on the roles of scientists or psychology students observing their behaviour.

The dancers are Brendan Wyatt, Heather Berry-McPhail and Molly Johnson. Their disoriented traumatized body movements and facial expressions alternate between aggressive controlling and compliant helplessness. There is an escalating frustration of wanting to get out-- a mind-body disconnect has set in-- but they have created their own confinement by locking themselves in.

The walls of the space are hospital white in a cold hostile way. Light is overall harsh and very bright, bouncing off surfaces onto their bodies, reflecting the internalized hauntedness of their souls. 

Scenes etch themselves in the mind.

Wyatt, palms against a wall, a position like that of a man being frisked by police. Dancers in the beginning wear hoodies, camouflaging themselves as if fearing capture on a surveillance camera.

Berry splatted on the top part of an exit door, suspended in a running position like an animated cut-out.

Wyatt lying like a corpse on a table, while Johnson checks for life. "Does this hurt?" she asks as she puts on her toque, yanks his feet, and roughly pulls his hair. Light has dimmed here with Berry, ghost-like, shining a surgical light on him. In another scene, the light harasses Berry, making her cringe against the wall, hands up in a gesture of defense.

Berry fills an aquarium with water. Made of glass, it a is a fragile, breakable living space. If they do unlock the doors and leave, can they survive as fish out of water? 

James Brunton's palette of repetitive creepy steely sounds fades up and down, creating a disturbingly hypnotic synthesized tension.

Overall this compelling production made me think of all those living isolated anonymous lives in the tiny living quarters of condo box towers. In an urban wilderness where surveillance cameras are everywhere watching.

And a driver caged in a speedy moving car with the disconnect of reality of life flickering outside the windows. Just passing through.

Forcier has created a compelling, dream-like microcosm of the world, inside and out.