Individual, Pregnant Woman and Transvestite
assaulted by bizarre mechanical modern world.
Ephemera: a modern trilogy, played at Hart House Theatre last week. The play encompasses the genres of Greek tragedy, dance and poetry (by Margaret Atwood, no less). It was an enrapturing, emotional experience such as one rarely finds in the increasingly cold and nullifying arena of 'modern' theatre. The concept and creation of Greek director Nikos Mitrogiannopoulos, Ephemera is a tragedy of modern life, the thwarting of the Individual by modern society in all its mechanical brutality. Mitrogiannopoulos himself was the Individual - his own euphemism for the concept of the Hero. The Hero passes through three stages of life - Genesis, Love and Death, each presented by a prelude and encompassed by a prologue and epilogue in keeping with classical Greek theatrical structure.
Through the poetry of Margaret Atwood the Hero and the audience experience the nature of love, the plight of the individual in love inour world today. Atwood's scathing and furious poems are used as a dialogue between the pregnant woman (Ottilie Mason) and the Transvestite (Bill Zaget). Out of their scornful mouths the words that tell of the bloody and debilitating of women's love are spat. "Who invented the word - love?" asks the disgusted Transvestite. The Pregnant woman is afraid of the world into which she is bringing her child. She scorns the notion that there is any mercy in the world. "And the war in the jungle - blood on crushed ferns - whose name I do not know," she says. Mason's delivery is subtle and quite stunning in it's overall effect and horror.
In the same way the Individual is literally being assaulted by the bizarre, mechanical modern world into which he was born. His discovery is that he cannot be an individual in society. He commits suicide. He cannot live in a world without love or in a world that is as heart strainingly cold as the music by Laurie Anderson, used in much of the choreography. That individual must die and mediocrity must live is an old concept that has gained new and eternal relevance in what is, according to the director a stilted and rapid fire society. The theatrical experience that the play creates is not through exposition but from pure atmosphere and movement. The set is sparse, with a huge white screen hanging at the rear onto which solid, harsh colours are projected. This was strangely disturbing. The huge spots of colour - reds, purples, clearly altered the mood of the audience and the tone of the production. In a sequence called "rage", blood red blared onto the screen, the characters writhed, and the heavy voice of Mitrogiannopoulos pounded over the speakers and one literally felt like hitting the roof. The mechanical, remote control "flower" was such an odd piece of theatrical equipment that it elicited an oddly humorous response from the audience. The humour in Ephemera is there but strange. The juxtaposition elements of the play is odd but it never attempts to be absurd, thank God.