Fort Fringe – Shop
July 21, 2:30 p.m. Jul 27, 6 p.m.
They say: “The Fringiest Show at the Fringe.”
Catherine’s Take: Yup. The Fringiest Show at the Fringe, or anywhere else.
Borealis Theatre describes the concept of cloudism as “an amorphous art that can be breathed, an atmosphere of interactive possibility and expression, felt by both the audience and performer, as the two blend together in a happening….” The audience at Fort Fringe seemed keyed up; people were asking strangers if they knew what The Cloudism Project was all about. Good question.
The Cloudism Project divides into three segments, which flow seamlessly into each other. As The Guide, Karen Beriss’s jokes and ukulele got the audience into a participatory spirit. Then the first segment When the Earth Moves began. A trained dancer, Neelam Patel, seemed to conjure the other actors onto the scene. They first rely on, then rebel against her. At the end of the piece, the loss of her companions — or are they her creations? — devastates her. Patel’s grace and the new age music create a weirdly relaxing dream mood. When the Earth Moves veers into philosophy as the characters resentfully ask “Why do we want things we can’t have?” as if it’s the Creator’s fault.
The middle segment serves as a palate cleanser, as audience members get up on stage and the actors all become other characters. Did I mention that we all sing? Different songs. At the same time. This is more fun that you might expect.
“A happening disguised as a thriller,” the final segment (This is) No Play explores what happens when people are trapped in scary, unfamiliar surroundings. These forks are easily upset; if you’re feeling mischievous, stick your feet out into the light at the edge of the playing area and see what happens. Things get meta-theatrical when they appeal to director Graham Pilato for help. In another take on the Creator theme, Pilato is sitting up in the tech area, watching and occasionally talking to the characters down on the stage. When the characters finally escape, they take the audience with them.
Improvisational and participatory, The Cloudism Project won’t be the same at its next performance. I won’t pretend that my mind didn’t wander once or twice, but there’s an undeniable thrill to being part of this particular happening.
Playwright: Creative Mind of Graham Pilato, assisted by Lisa K. Blythe and the Company
Show length: 100 minutes
See it if: You’re looking for an adventure, or a chance to get onstage, or you’re stoned.
Skip it if: You thought the ’70s were over.