Brecht Retold Boldly: Review of Nuclear Sky: The Experiment
Nuclear Sky is a post-modern deconstructed version of Mother Courage, one of my favourite plays ever. This was a really intelligent work with ten youthful and interesting performers, and one has to ask “When was the last time we got to see ten performers in something that wasn’t a musical?” The company managed to address many of the issues of being alive and young today and still maintained the essence of Brecht’s anti-war play.
Using the magic of terrific lighting design by Cedric Delorme-Bouchard, and astonishing video designed by Kenny Lefebvre, and sound by Joseph Browne they were able to evoke the horror and angst of today’s youth. The intense technology of the work amplified the confusion of information and stimulant overload.
There was ample reference to social media and how it makes reality a confusing element in life. The work was clever to include bullying and homophobia in the narrative as well. The actors were uniformly committed and present and delightful to watch, and the use of a combination of dance and monologues worked much better than I have ever experienced it.
The basic plot of the mother who capitulates her morality and dignity for the sake of survival was beautifully expressed. The characters and fates of Courage’s three children were revealed in truly dramatic and chilling manners.
These children digress to demonstrate modern issues such as violence as pornography, the utter futility of modern warfare and rape as an act of war. Finally there was the condemnation of Swiss Cheese the younger of Courage’s sons for revealing military secrets.
The only drawback is that there seems to be a rule that a collective must give everyone their fifteen minutes of spotlight whether it moves the play forward or is even marginally relevant. The play could have shaved about an hour and still have been really effective and emotionally true to its subject.
It is delightful to have such experimentation taking place in our city and I am sad that the run is so short.
Nuclear Sky: The Experiment (5 shows only) runs from June 3 to June 7 at Théâtre Rouge in the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal (4750 Henri-Julien) $5.