605 Collective and Theatre Replacement
The Sensationalists

Dates and Venue May 12 – 16, 2015, at 8pm | The Cultch, Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St

Director Maiko Bae Yamamoto Sound Design Gabriel Saloman Costume Design Leah Weinstein Lighting Design James Proudfoot Stage Manager Galia Goodwin Dancers Josh Martin, Walter Kubanek, Lisa Gelley, Laura Avery, Lexi Vajda & Jane Osbourne

Reviewer John Jane

Quite often in live theatre, performers will choose to remove the artificial barrier that typically exists between performance and the audience watching it. But when they do, they never relinquish dominion of what happens on stage. In the cross-disciplinary collaboration The Sensationalists, 605 Collective suspend some control over their performance in providing “Participation Seating.” The device of having part of the audience sharing space with dancers allows for non-verbal interaction, without totally relying on it.

If one looks in the dictionary, one will find under the definition of sensationalism: empiricism that limits experience as a source of knowledge to sensation or sense perceptions. In this show the sensationalists are the two men and four women of 605 Collective. Their loosely structured choreography is essentially non-linear, with dance syntax appearing esoteric. However, the dance vocabulary demands decisive physical movement and artistic sensitivity. 605 co-directors Josh Martin and Lisa Gelley, now married, are so closely coordinated that they seem to be one person with two bodies.

Theatre Replacement’s Maiko Yamamoto provides the artistic direction that couples interpretative dance with a kind of interactive theatre-in-the-round, but where there is also movement from the members of the audience that are literally within touching distance of the performers.

What I found surprising, but shouldn’t have, is how readily audience members picked up on the level of response required. No one displayed reluctance to participate, nor were there instances of joining in beyond what might be considered appropriate.

© 2015 John Jane