Josh: How was the show?
Me: I don’t know.
Red Tape Theatre presents BRAND. Temptation. Damnation. Redemption. These are the essences of this Henrik Ibsen play. In a nutshell, a priest struggles with his life. For me, the story became secondary to the experience. Red Tape has created a virtual reality of this classic. I’m so caught up in what is going on that I’m uncertain to what is going on. Red Tape’s BRAND is unique!
Red Tape Theatre houses its productions in a church. For BRAND, they take complete advantage of the cavernous space to heighten the mystique. Under the direction of Max Truax, the creative design team goes gothic with a twist of deserted. Oversize sheets of plastic envelop the theatre. It’s an otherworldly cocoon that is lit to shadowy perfection by Karen M. Thompson. In the forefront, discarded trash and people are laying around everywhere. The stage is deep and in the background, there are multiple pews. The 20+ seat audience initially sits in chairs looking into the tunneled space. In Act 2, we move onto the *stage* and into the pews. It’s intimate and interactive. Later, we are scurried back to our original seats. It almost feels like a haunted house. In fact, when an actor enters through the plastic, I do jump and scoot closer to the stranger on my left.
Truax has produced a surreal ambiance to execute the story. I’m never quite certain what the characters are saying but I’m totally fascinated on how they are saying it. Instead of interacting together, the ensemble talks to the audience. An intense Cody Proctor (Brand) will deliver his evangelism center stage. A character will respond to him a few inches from an audience member’s face. With their back to Proctor, the ensemble delivers their passionate lines directly to the audience. Meanwhile, someone is having sex in the last pew. It’s this layering of action that makes this such a multi-dimensional spectacle. It’s almost like looking through a kaleidoscope. The edges are blurry. Imagery comes in and out of focus. What is being depicted is left to interpretation. The artistry is so absorbing that I’m inclined not to brand it with a definition.
Red Tape’s BRAND is art.
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes includes an intermission
At St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 621 W. Belmont
Written by Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Max Truax
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru October 29