Radiohole Jan 11, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

Radiohole's Fluke was created from an improvisation activity the cast called Bible-Ear, in which a performer is expected to simultaneously listen to and recite back the recorded book playing in his headphones while holding a conversation with a person who is unable to hear the recording. The result in this case is the wild, physically rigorous and darkly hilarious riff on Herman Melville's Moby Dick. How do you tell the epic story of that white whale in under an hour and a half with three people and a naked bearded guy on a television? You don't. But, you have the opportunity to play with some of the rich themes and images of the story and to spin maniacally out of control in a charming and nightmarish descent, remnant of what was either Ahab's great failure or his supreme accomplishment. It was immediately obvious that the crowd's reception would be mixed and so I was compelled to listen to the conversations as I rode home on the bus. "Did you just see Radiohole?" The second rider says yes. "Wow, huh?" the first one asks. "I don't know what to think, there was so much going on." That was exactly what appealed to myself and to the first rider, who was effusive about how crazy and loud and crazy the show was. Even when I try to explain the performance to someone I find myself at a loss: well, there were television screens and microphones and mixing boards on stage and they were a jungle gym, no, it was a ship's rigging! And there are ping-pong balls flying, a dissonant conversation, those creepy eyelids and then the singing fish! Ahab is on Pointe and Starbuck is in a little boat on wheels, rolling in circles around the stage, playing connect four. A bit like watching a performance art piece enacted in someone's installation, I was unsure at times where I was supposed to look or what exactly I was hearing while we were shuttled between outrageous noise and startling silence. Being so removed from the stage in classic proscenium seating could be seen as a disadvantage with a show like this. It feels as though the level of intimacy afforded an audience who is able to sit in close proximity to the performers and their curio cabinet set would facilitate a sense of complicity and involvement, permitting a more thorough suspension of disbelief. So, pick up your free beer or glass of grog at the door, sit as close to the stage as you can and be prepared for anything. - Kristianne H.