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The Electric Company
A Co-production of Theatre at UBC and the PuSh Festival

Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge
By Kevin Kerr

Director Kim Collier Set Robert Gardiner Costumes Mara Gottler Composition and sound Patrick Pennefather Choreography Crystal Pite Stage Manager Jan Hodgson

Dates 17 -19 January 2006 Venue Frederic Wood Theatre Reviewer Jane Penistan


LUV poster

The premier of this new play by Kevin Kerr opened at the Frederic Wood Theatre at UBC on Thursday night to a very full house. Kevin Kerr's script deals with the "as it was" and the "as it might have been" in the life of photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge, a 19th century photographer, became fascinated with recording the motion of the body of moving, living creatures. At this time, this was an innovative study. Muybridge approached his subject with scientific discipline, labelling his models by number, not name, and treating his photographs as experiments.

Under the expert direction of Kim Collier and choreographer Crystal Pite, the thirteen members of the cast brilliantly displayed Muybridge's process of using innumerable plates of moving models, projected onto a screen in quick succession. The use of the recently installed new lighting and photographic projection technology was in the hands of Robert Gardiner. This he used with most refined taste, never allowing it to overpower the dramatic action of the play but rather enhancing the action and pointing up the excellence of the ensemble work. At times the lighting suffused the stage with a dreamlike quality, at others small sections were illuminated with the bright light of stark reality. The grid projections emphasized the mathematical precision of the camera to subject relationship.

Patrick Pennefather's music contained fragments of music from the earlier time of the play and was integrated with modern electronic sound.

The cast comprised several well-known Vancouver actors, some of whom are alumni of UBC, and current theatre students. Out-standing was Andrew Wheeler in the role of Muybridge. His portrayal of this strange, possessed, sometimes irascible, but brilliant, experimental genius, captivated the audience. He was ably assisted by Allan Morgan in a variety of roles and by Dawn Petten and Lara Gilchrist. Mention should also be made of twelve year old Kai James, whose performance was most professional as the boy in the orphanage. The ensemble work of the athletic members of the cast was impeccable in its precision and movement.

Excellence of production is something audiences have come to expect from The Electric Company and this one is of an exceptionally high standard in all departments. The presentation is part of the PuSh Festival, Vancouver's winter theatre festival. Not only is the script an intriguing and well written piece of the history of the origin of moving pictures, it is also an interesting study of the life of one of the little known originators of the moving picture concept. Added to this it is very good entertainment.

Studies in Motion runs at the Frederic Wood Theatre, at UBC Monday through Saturday at 7.30 p.m. January 17-29, 2006. For tickets and reservations call the Box Office at 604-822-2678, or contact the PuSh Festival.

2006 Jane Penistan