A little more than a year ago, “Shelter in Shadows” premiered as a one act play, at the Montreal St-Ambroise Fringe Festival in 2017. Largely inspired by his work with the Labyrinth Theatre Company in New York, Jay Cutler’s piece, set in limbo, explored what binds us to the physical realm and prevents us from moving on. This year, Cutler brings us the second instalment of his ghostly piece about love, change, and letting go, presented as an otherworldly live art installation at the Galerie Trois Points, located in the Belgo building.
In this instalment, our characters Cray and Malo, this time interpreted by Anton May, are still trapped, it seems, in the same eerie Church that Cray, played by Cutler, fled to after attending his ex-wife’s funeral. Their metaphysical plane, however, seems to be flipped. Instead of ghostly beings dressed in white in a boundless world of darkness represented by the black curtained walls of the theatre, our ghosts wear all-black and our walls are endless white. The show is on a continuous 45 minute loop, distorting time, like a broken record, as if implying that if something doesn’t change, these spirits will be stuck on this loop forever.
This time, they are shadowed by a third presence, played by Laurie-Anne Langis, who orbits the two tortured spirits, mostly silent, as they attempt to let go of their pasts, and hopefully, finally move on to whatever is waiting for them on the next plane of existence. It was unclear how she was connected to Cray and Malo, other than echoing their emotions through abstract movement. The other performers didn’t seem to acknowledge her at all, leaving me wondering if she even represented a person, or an unseen entity.
Their use of the gallery space also felt lacking in creativity and perhaps congruity. A plain wall divides the gallery into two rooms. One, well lit with harsh yellow light, where most, if not all the action takes place. The other dim, with blue lights, that stays mostly empty throughout the loop, save for instances where a hanging microphone, set all the way in the corner of the shadowy space, is used. I felt this side of the gallery was left mostly ignored and I was a little confused, considering candles had been lit and laid out along the edge of the wall, which created a nice atmosphere.
The concept of looped script was initially interesting, because they claimed it would alter viewers experiences depending on when they entered, but I felt there was a clear beginning and end to the cycle, with a break in the music and a long still pause before the performers began to move and speak again.
As the second instalment of a show I had already seen last year, I was disappointed that so little had changed apart from transitioning from a one-act play to a slow-moving, looped piece of live art where spectators could come and go as they please. The characters were still stuck in the same place, and I felt I learned little, if any new information about them.
Date and time viewing the piece: September 6th from 1:45pm to 3:15pm
Jay Cutler presents “Shelter in Shadows: Live Installation Art”
September 6, 7, 8 from 12:00 – 8:00 PM
Galerie Trois Points (372 Ste-Catherine O., #520)
For more information about the production: https://www.facebook.com/events/519073221842710/
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