Theatre that makes you think about leaving

By DJ Kelly November 16, 2007

On Wednesday night I trucked on down to the Grand to see Marie Brassard’s Peepshow. The show is about 85 minutes long with no intermission, so you know it is my kind of theatre – straight to the point. The show was good, yes – although I wanted more. (Herald review can be found here.) It was highly technical with Brassard playing multiple characters discernible through different voices created by sound processing. A one trick pony but very clever and very well done.

I love theatre that makes you think, but when this production ended at about 9:30pm I wasn’t so much thinking about the production as what else I saw.

I was familiar going into the production with Brassard’s work and after reading a little bit about it I was expecting a fair amount of sexuality. I was surprised when there wasn’t much. Now, you know you really are surprised when you expect sex in an entertainment offering and don’t get it, right? But here’s the thing: with about 5 minutes left in the show the couple behind us got up and left.

I was wracking my brain thinking about why they must have left. There was a little whispering beforehand but not enough to make me think the babysitter texted them asking them to rush home. Certainly going to a play in Calgary isn’t like going to a hockey game where you want to run out with 5 minutes left to play so you can be ahead of traffic. (Trust me, there won’t be gridlock in the parking lot – there isn’t nearly enough volume to make this happen after a play in Calgary.) So, what caused the sudden exeunt?

True the show was in the middle of its most ‘sexual’ scene but there wasn’t really anything offensive going on. Certainly not compared to what I’ve seen in other theatres in Calgary, or in that theatre previously, or on network television for that matter. But this is the only reason I can think of to answer why they left.

I watched them leave wondering: why? The artistic director of the theatre was sitting in front of me but he kept his eyes on the show. (Which kinda says something about something doesn’t it?)

Five minutes later when show ended, four other couples got up and left before the lone actress even began her vows. You know she can see you, right? If you can see her, she can see you just as well. Why sit through a show you obviously didn’t enjoy? To not be rude I guess. And then get up and run out once the actor turns her attention to the audience? Just to be rude I guess. Interesting. Did you think she was doing you a favour? Were you doing her one?

This got me thinking about a lot of different things but the one thing I thought most about was what kind of city do I live in? Everyone says Calgary is a conservative city. I’ve often joked its either the most liberal conservative city ever or the most conservative liberal city. (After all we vote conservative in federal elections and liberal civicly. We’re just now starting to vote liberal instead of conservative provincially.) Why would you go to the theatre and be shocked by something so tame? Either way, why leave so quick?