There’s a lot of foreplay in this show and no orgasm.
In Art Heist, playwrights TJ Dawe and Ming Hudson offer an experience in which audiences of up to 10 people sleuth around Granville Island trying to figure out who pulled off a half-billion-dollar theft from Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum in 1990. There are 13 clues in the form of QR codes (which you hunt like Easter eggs) and there are five folks to interview. Time and space are flexible: a couple of the interviewees are dead; some exist in the present and some in the past.
Every group gets a guide. Ours was retired FBI agent Bob Whitman (played by the responsive and mentally agile Stefano Giulianetti.)
It’s cool to be out and playing with other people. And I was mightily impressed by the skills of my fellow detectives: they asked smart questions and picked up on subtle links and inconsistencies.
But, because we were so fucking chatty, the projected run time of 90 minutes spilled over into 130. And that gave me time to realize that we were never really going to figure anything out. As the Fringe guide had already told us, the Gardiner caper was a real heist and, as Bob Whitman informed us, the art has never been recovered and no one has been charged. So each of us in the audience was building a complicated logical machine in our heads, but none of those machines was ever going to run. As that realization sank in, my interest waned.
Still, the game wasn’t pointless. I had a good time, especially off the top, and I particularly enjoyed Rodney DeCroo’s performance as career art thief Myles J. Connor Jr. DeCroo’s Connor bursts out in unexpected burbles of Hannibal Lechter-like glee. That’s fun.
And there’s a lot to be said for foreplay.
ART HEIST By TJ Dawe and Ming Hudson. Produced by In Stride Entertainment. At the Yellow Crane Pad as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival on Saturday, September 12. Remaining performances: September 13 starting at 7 pm, &:20 pm, 7:40 pm; September 18 starting at 7 pm, 7:20 pm, 7:40 pm; September 19 starting at 6 pm, 6:20 pm, and 6:40 pm; September 20 starting at 3 pm, 3:20 pm, and 3:40 pm. The start times are staggered: the scheduled running time is 90 minutes. Tickets.
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