Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C


I’m real tardy on this one. I don’t know quite exactly what happened, but something like a little over a month ago, I saw this very nicely done performance, from of all places, Calgary. I don’t quite know what happened in between then and now, that caused me to postpone writing this for so long (actually, I’m being disingenuous, I know exactly what was up, I’m just not quite prepared at this time to be completely transparent about it, bear with me, if you will) but this morning I received a copy of Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux and I made a solemn vow to myself. I would write up all the other reviews that I had been lollygagging about while reading Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux in order to have a completely clear conscience.

So not only will I be catching up on Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C, but there also should (will?) be reviews on Blowing Up the Brand, the Berlinde De Bruyckere show at DHC, The Marcel Brisebois biography, Michael Merrill’s exhibit and catalogue from the Visual Arts Centre, some overly academic book on graffiti that I was sent, Je Suis Un Autre, Bettina Forget’s One Random Year, Soak, Kiss and Cry, Compagnie Käfig, Publicité Sauvage’s catalogue and exhibits and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Hmmmm, I think it might be a good thing that I am a very slow reader. Unfortunately, I’m not a very fast writer. But if you hadn’t figured it out already, “baited breath,” breathless anticipation,” and flat, outright drooling don’t even become close to expressing how much I’ve been anticipating Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux.

I also apologize, because I now realize that I might refer to some of the other shows while reviewing the one at hand, and while a month or so might be bad in terms of a performance, my behavior has been completely and utterly unprofessional when it comes to the books (I don’t have exact dates, but I think I might be more than a year behind schedule with regards to things that are bound). But, with some luck (and some understanding PR folk) I’ll be able to get everything back in order in something like two weeks. Bear with me, and I hope that the catching up is entertaining.

But lets get back to business. If you want the short version I liked Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C. If you want the long version, keep scrolling.

A couple of things to point out in advance of me opinionating on things, A) after reading a number of negative reviews of Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C I wondered if anyone had bothered to keep track of the positive versus the negative reviews of shows at Usine C. Usine C is pushing whatever is beyond the edge of the envelope with regards to theatre and dance and performance and that sort of stuff, and while I have not done a systematic study, my guess would be that negative reviews are the norm, and they have become accustomed to it. B) There’s some sort of new hybrid-type of performance that really needs to find a name soon. Because a hybrid performance with some dance, some theatre, some video and some other stuff is not likely to appeal to a dance critic, nor a theatre critic, nor a film critic. C) I wish I would have had the opportunity to ask Mr. Lawes if he knew about Centralia, PA and D) given the current state of affairs here in Canada how can you not just unconditionally love some bilingual hybrid performance art that pushes the envelope and comes from Calgary?

Now that I’ve got that off my chest (especially the part about Centralia, PA – despite reading that Wayne, AB served as the inspiration for the performance, I feel extremely strongly that Centralia, PA echos the concept better) let’s get it on with regards to the actual performance that I saw (or what I can remember about it a month after the fact).

The thing that strikes home hardest, is that in my notes I wrote, “this is pretty cool.” During a performance, when I am writing my notes, I’m never quite certain if I want to be like the Danny Gallivan and try and describe every gosh darn movement that happens on stage, or if I want to be more like Dick Irvin Jr. and just relax and explain why and how things are happening. So when I discover in my notes, that I actually wrote something opinionated, I gotta take a step back and accept it, even if I don’t remember writing it. Because for the most part, I end up writing more play-by-play than color.

Then combine that with the fact that more than a month after having seen the hybrid performance (does anybody else have a better term that can be used? Please!) upon re-reading my notes I can actually remember the performance (and while I wouldn’t quite say the words “Broadway Smash!” I would say “Two Thumbs Up”) leads me to believe that Mr. Lawes and Co. are on the right track.

I guess at this point, it would be as good as any to try and explain the plot: In short; five people are stuck in an abandoned mine and can’t quite find their way out. I’m not quite sure if the plot really is the be-all-and-end-all, From where I was sitting it seemed to me to be more like some sort of vehicle to further Mr. Lawes‘ idea of what should be contemporary performance.

As an example Stephen Turner, playing the part of Pierre; for the most part I have self-identified as a dance critic, and went into Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes at Usine C as if I was covering a dance, but what are you going to do when one of the performers looks like they have a BMI of 35?

Stephen P Turner, photo courtesy
Stephen P Turner, photo courtesy

Where I was brought up, dancers were supposed to have BMI’s of 15 or less. And it is exactly this pushing of the boundaries that makes Lucy Lost her Heart by Mark Lawes a success.

I think that for the most part, trying to make sense out of the story ultimately is an exercise in frustration. As far as I could tell, it wasn’t really intended to do more than impart a feeling, a sensation or an emotion depending on where you are in the performance. Letting it flow over or around you kind of like a river is how I ended up dealing with it. Yes, each of the characters has a name and a history, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Hence why I identify it more with the history of Centralia, PA instead of Wayne, AB.

I also gotta say that there is a tremendous difference (for the good) when a performance (hybrid, or not) is done with live music. Chris Dadge did a great job as both musician and narrator kind of, not exactly holding things together, but more like making sure that they didn’t stray too far away.

Which is not to say that the other performers, Raphaele Thiriet, Ian Killburn, Isabelle Kirouac and Mike Tan weren’t carrying their weight. Just that they were playing music or painting rocks. In an ensemble piece, like this one, there are certain times when the sum of the individual parts is less than the total of the whole. And that was most definitely the case with Lucy Lost Her Heart.

Whether you decide that it is some kind of post-apocalyptic 21st century hybrid performance, or that it is “a surreal landscape of stories and dreams … in a world where inventing stories makes the future possible.” Or something else entirely, it is an interesting hybrid performance that pushes boundaries in a bunch of really good ways. Some of which don’t even take place on stage.