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Beautiful twisting language and subtle action captivates audience

 Photo by Marc Jan

There is no poetry like the language of theater. The truth of that is stretched to its limits at the hands of Eugene Ionesco’s play, The Bald Soprano.  The University of Ottawa’s Unicorn Theatre performs the play from March 4–8 at Academic Hall in Séraphin Marion.

The Bald Soprano takes place in the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Smith who are entertaining the Martins and the fire chief under the watchful eye of Mary, their maid. Most of the play’s developments unfold in the actors’ language and the subtlety of their actions.  Watching is kind of like listening to a drunken tale being told at a bar; each sequence of words makes sense, yet the story itself never seems to fall into perspective.

These spoken transitions aren’t the only things that’ll draw you in during the performance, however — the light used to set the mood in the background, the bashful sauntering of the actors across the stage as each hour is struck, and the powerful, resonating sounds that accompany the show are also compelling.

The lighting and sound effects are used rather well.  They provide a sense of direction to an otherwise disconnected series of events.  They’ll keep you on the edge of your seat if you’re not already too busy getting lost in the depths of your own mind.

There is also poetry for days. The scene in which Mary recites a poem about fire explodes with perplexity.  It forces a reconsideration of perspectives, which in turn creates an emotional sense of depth and meaning. Thanks to their unique use of a microphone during the play, her voice rings clearly and crisply throughout the room, so you won’t miss a single word of it.

Despite encapsulating its audience, the play’s final note can feel rather abrupt — like the initial shrill of an alarm clock. However, the ending will definitely leave you wanting a second serving.

Admittedly, this performance lends itself well to introspective thought through its deconstruction of language and in the way it twists perspectives. There is also an element of absurdity about the play, which, if taken too seriously, will work against the traditional sense of entertainment and leave any audience member feeling frustrated. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no better place for such a thing than at a university.