Joining creature/creature in the category of Oscar-Wilde-inspired shows is “A Change in the Weather”, a collective creation presented by String and Pearls Productions. Loosely based on Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant”, this show is a relevant and self-revealing discussion of environmental issues, structured around key details and core themes of Wilde’s story.
“A Change in the Weather” begins with a video projected in impressively large scale, in which the performers provide a detailed summary of “The Selfish Giant” in their own words and laced with their personal commentary. This is a well-thought beginning, as it provides context to audience members who may not be familiar with the piece’s source material, and gives little hints as to who the performers are; their faces, their quirks, and what kind of details strike them personally in a given story.
The rest of the piece consists of a variety of short scenes in which the performers present various perspectives on the topic of climate change. The thoughts shared range from the purely factual and statistical to the very personal, and sometimes the hypothetical. Each collection of scenes is introduced by a projected title card connecting it to the appropriate element from “The Selfish Giant”. Some segments do not hit their mark quite as well as others, but the vast majority are thoroughly enjoyable. Overall, they make a beautiful collage, one that is informative without feeling like a lecture. The piece uses a variety of patterns, rhythms and mediums to put a creative spin on something very scientifically rooted.
“A Change in the Weather” showcases a thoughtful and talented ensemble unafraid to speak out about an important issue and to confess their own capitalist and environmentally dubious actions. One particularly effective scene has them – one at a time – delivering facts about themselves in relation to the environment, inciting their cast mates to walk forwards or backwards depending on whether or not they can identify with what has just been spoken. They cover recycling habits, waste, shopping, willingness to change, and more; the result – which features many walks of shame – engages the audience into mentally taking part in that back and forth walk, making us painfully aware and ashamed of how much we like to think of ourselves as environmentally conscious despite a number of our behaviors indicating otherwise.
As previously mentioned, the use of video projection is quite remarkable: various degrees of close-ups on actors’ faces are made visible along the entire back wall – all the way up to the high ceiling of Studio Jean-Valcourt. Another noteworthy technical element is the use of practical lights handled by the performers onstage, pointed at one another from various directions, creating interesting and dynamic patterns that might have been difficult to achieve with a moderate amount of stage lights limited to their fixed positions.
“A Change in the Weather” is a thought-provoking and guilt-inducing production, one that will leave you feeling self-aware and wide awake, ready to make a change (even though that readiness might fade not long after, as the show makes it clear that humankind never learns). Among the wide variety of scenes, there is bound to be something to please everyone.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Violette Kay
String and Pearls Productions presents “A Change in the Weather”
When: June 10 – 17, 2017
Where: Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire, 4750 Rue Henri-Julien
Duration: 45 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival