2020 Wildside Recap: ‘hollow mountain’

Special Festival Coverage

A whimsical dance and song spectacle about navigating the mountains of the inner psyche, Rock Bottom Movement’s hollow mountain makes it Montreal premiere at Centaur Theatre‘s 23rd Wildside Festival from January 10th to 18th, 2020.

Here’s what I love most about the Wildside Festival: exposure to boundary-pushing art that expands my own awareness on the possibilities of theatre-making.

It’s what consecutively keeps me returning to binge the festival every year and to madly forgo an extended winter vacation away from the glaring screen of my laptop. The chance to discover pioneering contemporary work that stirs my capacity for artistic thinking has fundamentally become an annual holiday in itself.

That being said, due to the very (formidable) risk-taking resolve of the Wildside, it’s impossible for all selections to strike on a personal level. I consider myself to be relatively open and receptive in my critical practice, and as earnest as I strive to be in finding the heartbeat of a well-intended piece, sometimes its pulse just doesn’t quite come through.

Last year, that show was Body So Fluorescent (to which I composed a “vulnerable letter”). This year, the void is heartbreakingly left by hollow mountain.

There’s plenty to genuinely applaud in this visually and aurally striking production: technically impressive choreography, a gripping original score, and a unique performance aesthetic that only the most deviant could devise. Multi-talented performers dance, sing, act, and accompany themselves on an eclectic array of musical instruments from the clarinet to the accordion with consummate artistry (give me a tap number any time). It’s a polished piece, certainly, and one that also balances the beauty of refined human skill with an animalistic abandon of sorts.

Again – it’s full of good and its spot on the Wildside lineup is wholly deserved. I don’t claim to the universality of my opinion. Sold out performances during its premiere run at Toronto’s Collective Space this past November indicate there’s an audience for hollow mountain. I just seemed to have missed the demographic cut for it.

In most simplistic and sincere terms: admittedly, “I didn’t quite get it.” hollow mountain‘s heavy proclivity for the absurd, abstract, and allegorical compromised accessibility and clarity of purpose, story, theme, and message. Or, perhaps more pressingly, I didn’t feel it. I can happily part from a show not having fully absorbed it from the stratum of cognition and reasoning, but to not be struck by it on a more visceral level is a more alienating matter.

Younger theatregoers with a penchant for the darkly comic and aberrant may find themselves reflected in this neon pink cosmic world of space pigs, demonic possessions, and bodily mutilation. The Rock Bottom Movement company may be on the cusp of something we haven’t yet grasped, and their efforts in defying theatrical convention is to at least be commended.

Four performances remain in Montreal: January 12th, 14th, 17th, and 18th.

The 2020 Wildside Festival presents Rock Bottom Movement’s Hollow Mountain
January 10-18, 2020
Centaur Theatre | 453 St Francois Xavier St.
$16 Adults | $13 Students/Seniors/Under 30s
514-288-3161 | www.centaurtheatre.com

For more 2020 Wildside Festival Recaps, visit: 

Camila Fitzgibbon

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