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THEATRE ONLINE Zooming in on lockdown liberation

MARY CONWAY recommends a convention-busting theatre show

Bait Theatre

ALL life, it seems, is on Zoom right now, and it’s not surprising that theatre companies, digital artists and egomaniacs generally are plundering it for platform opportunities.

In the resulting plethora of goodies and not-so-goodies, Bait Theatre are making their mark with a lockdown-busting, feel-good, weirdly intelligent and crazy collage of imagery for a maximum audience of 21 people at  any one time.  

The company’s two instigators, all-round creatives and performers are Michelle Madsen and Lizzy Shakespeare. With a formidable combined pedigree in artistic venture, they set out to deliver what they describe as an experiment in theatre, poetry and interactive performance which “takes the audience down a virtual rabbit hole into a dream space where meaning can be found in nonsense.”

Every moment is unexpected, and it is a mistake to force what is happening into any preformed assumption about what theatre is. The duo perform clown-like characters from time to time, exploring the female persona and suffusing the piece with the kind of refreshing gentleness often missing in a world where stridency seems de rigueur.

And there are visual effects that explore traditional sets and backdrops, but there is no through narrative line and no cliched explanation of what is happening.

Instead, participants — the audience — are coaxed from one visual image and one breakout room to another, all the time abandoning fixed assumptions and feeling a freedom to explore endlessly.

There’s also an emphasis on participants “being seen,” which might sound intrusive but instead has a therapeutic impact on those lost in relentless thoughts and dismal habits of lockdown, especially when the show ends with “a visit to the bar.”

Suddenly, you find yourself in the amiable company of people you never knew but who are up for a chat. Bring your own drink and you can relax and enjoy.

For those already Zoomed out, Cronivision may be a step too far. But there is no escaping its benign and comforting aura, nor the artistic intelligence that underpins it.

Performances until February 27, details:




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