Direct Theatre Collective manages to interweave disturbing subject matter with playful moments without diminishing the significance of the message with Hysteria. They take you into a future of what if's which prompt you to contemplate their individual accounts of #metoo perhaps along with your own or of loved ones.
Although some of the content may be shocking, it isn't presented in an overly crude or vulgar way other than some coarse language which is noted in the program description. Everyone left the theatre smiling which is an accomplishment considering the raw experiences that are shared. Even if they don't overcome some of the missed cues they had on opening night the production will still provide audience members with some smiles if not laughs as well as some serious issues to consider.
Hysteria by Direct Theatre Collective is playing at the Cultch Historic Theatre 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
Click "read more" for the full video transcript.
Welcome, theatre addicts. My name is Karen, and I'm here to review Hysteria by the Direct Theatre Collective here at The Cultch Historic Theatre as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. The Direct Theatre Collective is a new company, I believe, put together by local artist, well, Richmond, Jill Raymond. However, I do understand that, although she's listed as a playwright, that this is a very collaborative effort by the all-female creative team, and that they've contributed whether it be content, music, as much of it is original music, I hear, as well as imagery. So, it should be an interesting endeavour as far as seeing how she pulled together pieces from so many individuals, their side of things, their stories, and turned it into something cohesive.
So from the write-up, I'm a little intrigued because it says that it's intense and intellectual. It says it speaks to truth, it has powerful imagery, and it's unapologetic. So, considering it's addressing the #metoo movement, that doesn't really surprise me. However, what does surprise me is it also lists 'funny', and at the end it even mentions 'potential dance party'. So to me, I just find that interesting, to see how they're gonna take some very heavy material, I would think, and do it in a lighthearted manner without reducing the content or the message.
So, I think it's gonna be interesting as far as a refreshing, perhaps, way of looking at the type of content to do with the #metoo movement. Danielle interviewed the creative team last week, I guess it was, and they mentioned a ukulele trio. So, I'm pretty excited for that as well. Obviously, that's probably one of the ways to lighten the mood of the content to be discussed. But yeah, I'm really intrigued to see this production and I can't wait for it to start. So, I'll get back to you real soon.
Alright folks, I'm back. And there's a few things I wanted to address before I get underway with the review. I did forget to mention, there's a few warnings to be aware of. Coarse language, sexual content, violent content, dealing with the #metoo movement, so not overly surprising, but definitely the coarse language did pop up to me. So, wanted to make sure to mention that. There's also a little bit of audience interaction, but don't let that scare you off. It's not like they immerse you in anything. If you don't wanna participate, you just say no, and it's really not a big deal. So, just be aware of those things.
Also, a couple of corrections. I mentioned Jill was a local. I believe she lives here now, but I don't believe she was born and bred. So, depending on what your definition of 'local' is, that might matter to you. And more importantly, I did mention it was all-female creative team. That's incorrect. They actually did note some men in the programme as far as collaborators, so I don't want them to feel slighted in any way. So, let's nix the whole all-female creative and do pay attention to the programme if you go and see who all had a part in this production.
So, when you go into the performance, it's a very basic set, as I pretty much suspected. It's a large screen in the background and really no set to be seen. They bring props out as they need them, usually chairs, a couple of other items. It's really the content and the performance for this piece that matter. So, again, no real surprises there. Before the play gets underway, however, they do mention that they have a counsellor on site. Again, I personally don't feel that any of the content in this production was overwhelming or disarming; however, I do think that it could either cause people to come to realizations that they wouldn't have thought of before and/or may trigger memories for those who have had any of these types of experiences in the past. So, I could definitely see why they would feel the need for that. So, also keep that in mind. If you feel that the content might be too heavy for you, again, don't let that deter you simply because they do have that counsellor available for anyone who feels the need. So, I thought that was worth mentioning.
So, the performance actually starts off quite fun and playful in a sense. There's a dance number, there's singing, it's actually interlaced throughout the production. So, I did mention that, I was wondering how that was gonna work. What I found, though, is as they weave through, they've got some difficult material, then they lighten things up. Normally I don't like that, or I feel like it would be distracting; however, I thought about it and went, "Isn't life kind of like that?" And I think that really helps portray what's happening here. You've got a group of women and it can't be deep and dark all the time and they can't also be playful and put everything under the rug all the time either. So, I think it does really kind of reflect life and just the way we have to deal with things, and the way that we present ourselves, and sometimes inner turmoils.
Speaking of inner turmoils, there's actually a dance sequence. Not sequence, it's a performance near the end that I found was very, very powerful. At first I thought, "This is kinda artsy, where are they going with this?" But by the end, it was great. It was just another way to say what they were trying to say, but without words. Again, they used various media types. You'll see things on the screen, you've got the live performers, you've got audio coming in, so it is a mishmash of everything, but again, it's pulled together quite well.
As far as the storyline, even the programme asks, "What's next?" And by what's next, they're talking about the #metoo movement. Everyone's talking, there's a lot of action being taken with various people, there's a lot of thought going on, but what is next? And so, the playwright here takes it in a direction of things that they think could be seeing happening or variations of, kind of takes me down the trail a little bit of The Handmaid's Tale or Black Mirror, if you watch TV, where you see things happening that are so close to our society, that could be so real, and might end up being real, who knows? Who really knows? So again, gives you a lot to really think about.
They don't really say anything as far as what's right, what's wrong, what the solution is. It really, to me, is just carrying on that conversation. To me, that conversation is about making people think. Both men and women. This isn't directed at men and saying men are bad and these are the horrible things that they do to women. It's, to me, eye-opening for women as well. Again, not to say that women play a part in this, but just the way women think about these things, and maybe if that should be changing and how that could be changing. Maybe it's even just a matter of girlfriends talking more about these types of things. I think theatre helps us all with that. So, whether it's this topic or other topics, it should be creating a conversation stream and making people talk about things, and hopefully bettering our society at the end of the day.
As far as the audience reaction, everyone seemed to love it. There was pretty much a standing ovation at the end of it, a crowd of about 70 people and I'd say 60 of them were standing. I heard a lot of women giggling on their way out, it was almost like they had just come out of a rom-com at the movie theatre. So, obviously, they've done the right job of keeping it light. You're not gonna leave here depressed, but you will leave here thinking.
Despite the standing ovation, I do feel that they struggled a little bit with some of their lines. Again, it's a very first show, I could see that picking up and running along more smoothly after a few more performances. Some of them picked up better than others when they fumbled a line, but again, after a standing O, nobody really cared at the end of the day. I believe they accomplished what they needed to.
There was also a part where there was some media in the background and I felt it started going too quickly, so you couldn't read it all. However, that could've been intended, too, because it could give the illusion, not illusion, but the intention of just the bombardment of those types of messages. So, maybe that is intentional. I think it might've been more powerful if you could just read them a bit more, or maybe cut them down a bit so you just see certain words flashing so that you still get the sense of bombardment, but you still get to see the message. Just my thoughts.
So, I hope that gives you a good indication of what's going on. Deep content, still lighthearted, lots to think about, good for men and women, nothing to be scared of. Nothing to be scared of, but again, the counsellor is there if it does have any sort of triggering thoughts. But I think more people need to see these things, I think more of us need to share these types of thoughts. So hopefully, some of you guys do get to take it in and do enjoy it, or at least get some takeaways from it, 'cause to me, that's really what's important.
We'd love your take on this or any other Fringe performances that you might see, so please leave your thoughts in the comments below. And also, don't forget to subscribe to the Theatre Addicts YouTube channel and check our website for more reviews and interviews as they come in. I'm Karen and this was my review of Hysteria by The Direct Theatre Collective as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
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