Returning to Montreal Fringe after premiering “A David Lynch Wet Dream” last year, Acherontia Productions weaves a shattered tale of disconnect and assimilation in “SCRUM”. Returning director Natasha Perry-Fagant choreographs intense and visceral set pieces around the deconstruction and illumination of trauma and how communities and societies impact or inhibit those narratives. With extremely accomplished set, lighting, and sound design by Perry-Fagant, “SCRUM” is fully realized theatre that will leave its images burned in your brain, for better or for worse.
Trying to interpret my notes for this show is a bit like attempting to understand the show itself; largely silent and non-narrative, the work invites discourse and interpretation through its creation of images and symbols (contrary to the unintelligibility of my notes and scribbles, the show’s creations hold up). Let’s start at the beginning: a soft, projected light appears against the wide black curtain at the back of the stage. It’s hard to make out, but as a gentle ringing sound in the background begins to escalate, so too does the image become more clear: something is burning or melting – indeed, the projector screen itself seems to be burning itself from the inside out.
It’s a haunting image, and a terrific introduction to the world of these characters – or, rather, this community. Through careful and concrete choreography we see this group of six characters simultaneously act as one entity and as part of a balanced ecosystem of individual identities. My initial association of the word “scrum” was to the rugby formation wherein play is restarted after a minor infringement. The association works in that the play repeatedly stages moments of chaos, or traumatic incidents, followed by the the community attempting, through any means, to reinstate a sense order. Funnily enough, when I google’d the word, it led me to another, if similar, definition: “Scrum is a management and control process that cuts through complexity to focus on building products that meet business needs”. Intentionally or not, “SCRUM” the show enacts these models as ways of showcasing the dangers of institutionalized insensitivity to trauma or loss. Processes of management and control cut through the complexities and nuance of trauma – namely, the emotional baggage it incurs – in an effort to maintain a facsimile of stability and productivity.
To describe the images and set pieces within the show is to rob them of their potency. Suffice it to say, Perry-Fagant choreographs moment after moment of calculated audiovisual-performer harmony. While the lighting and sound design are a significant draw, it would be a shame not to mention the dedicated and embodied performances of the six actors on stage. Playing with different archetypes, each actor maintains a sense of personality while existing within this contained ecosystem of order and control. It’s incredibly entertaining to switch focus between the different actors on stage at any given time because of the singularity of each performance. If some moments are more inscrutable than others, there is usually so much action on stage (calculated, not chaotic or cluttered) that your interest will be piqued again within a matter of moments.
“SCRUM” is a terrific balancing act of performance, script, and design working together harmoniously. It works so well that one is forced to wonder: what would happen if one part were to break down?
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Andrew Sawyer
Acherontia Productions presents “SCRUM”
When: June 9 – 18, 2017
Where: Studio Multimédia du Conservatoire, 4750 Henri-Julien
Duration: 45 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival