JWR Articles: Live Event - Possible Worlds (Director: Mitchell Cushman) - July 16, 2015

Possible Worlds

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Who are we really?

Last seen in these pages in 2008 (cross-reference below), sad to report that the effect of John Mighton’s Possible Worlds is fading as time goes by rather than improving with age.

Written and first produced in 1990, this—in those days—fascinating probe into the worlds of imagination comes across largely flat in 2015.

With so many telltale talk and reality shows, far too much instant revelation on social media and dangerously unfiltered tweets giving uneven voice to one and all, there is precious little “wow” let alone shock factor left in the 21st century’s ubiquitous universe of every aspect of the human condition.

And then there’s the water.

Flooding the Studio Theatre’s floor—with immediate reference to amniotic nurturing as George (Cyrus Lane) is first seen naked in the artificial pond and, later, the reported death of a loved one at sea—didn’t seem worth the considerable effort (although the understudies might well have more chance than usual given the possibility of the cast catching colds or developing industry-strength sneezes).

The five-member troupe (also including Krystin Pellerin as “multiple” Joyce, the two cops—played with gumshoe surety by Michael Spencer-Davis and Gordon Miller, and ably watched over by Sarah Orenstein’s Penfield) convincingly did everything asked of them by director Mitchell Cushman.

Anahita Dehbonehie’s sets—apart from the wading pool—were sparse models of form and function, truly aided and abetted by Nick Bottomley’s marvellous projections.

Even the magic (David Ben providing the wherewithal to pour a never ending stream of wine from a single vessel, adding a slight biblical feel to the mix) produced some fine moments of diversion, accompanied by everyone’s sloshing footsteps in the drink.

The capacity crowd seemed uncertain as to whether or not some of the macabre situations warranted a laugh, resulting in a lack of consensus about just what was meant to be felt or experienced.

Employing the classic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” as the musical cantus firmus reinforced the motif of wet but was miles away from the drama. The imagery of some songs—especially given notable cinematic treatment—does not readily wash away.

At journey’s end, there was more empathy for Louise the rat’s brain than the actual humans—lobotomized or not—as they tried to make sense of a world with impossible dimensions. JWR

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Playwright - John Mighton
Director - Mitchell Cushman
Set Designer - Anahita Dehbonehie
Lighting Designer - Kimberly Purtell
Costume Designer - Dana Osborne
Projection Designer - Nick Bottomley
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Stratford Festival
Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
for related work: