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The Magic Hour: It really is

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Review | 0 comments

promotional image for The Magic Hour at Presentation House

The library is just one of the trippy sites in The Magic Hour. (Photo by Clayton Baraniuk)

The Magic Hour opened me up and rearranged me. It was extraordinary.

The Magic Hour offers an immersive experience that audience members go through one at a time — or in pairs if you need to. The idea is that you’re finishing a dog walk and re-entering your home during the Covid pandemic.  But, when you pass through the first door, you find out that your home is an extraordinary maze of interconnected installations — the entire interior of Presentation House has been repurposed — and every installation offers opportunities to reflect on Covid and climate change.

This isn’t grim; in fact, it’s often transcendentally poetic.

Much of the pleasure derives from surprise, so I’ll offer just a few examples. For me, some of the imagery released longing. In the living room, for instance, the walls are suddenly flooded with video of beaches and of food that was unfamiliar to me but offered a brazen invitation to my mouth. This footage reminded me of how desperate I am to know again the synaptic bliss that travel, that novel experience, can provoke.

The bedroom reminded me that my grief and loneliness are seen and shared: a two-dimensional projected human outline twists on a bed that’s surrounded by a shallow moat filled with water.

And The Magic Hour repeatedly placed my body within the natural world — as opposed to being on top of it or fearful of it. In the library, flowers appeared on the blank covers of books, but I was there too, in a way. I’ll let you find out how that happens.

Core artists Kim Collier and Kendra Fanconi are credited as creator and writer respectively. There are a lot of words in Fanconi’s script, which is delivered via a recording of Maiko Yamamoto’s soothing voice. (The voice also guides you from room to room.) This abundance bothered a couple of people that I talked to after the show, but I experienced it as part of the overall immersion. If you go, I encourage you to release the notion of making literal sense out of every utterance. It’s poetry: you not going to grasp it all on the first, second, or maybe even third hearing. I encourage you to let it carry you like a stream; there will be no shortage of phrases to grasp onto and consider: “You are a leading expert in longing”; “Do you want a new story?”; “Yes, the weather has something to do with you”; “Who will you invite to join you at your table?”

Design-wise, there are a lot of people to credit: scenic designers LJ Chinfen and Jonathan Wells, multimedia designer Mark Eugster, sound designer and composer Alessandro Juliani, show control and automation designer Joel Grinke, lighting director Bryan Kenney, lighting designer Brad Trenaman, and assistant sound designer Matt Grinke. That’s a lot of names because this show required a massive collective effort — and that effort has paid off.

When I am overwhelmed with feeling, my body sort of convulses — like I’m getting kicked in the heart. It’s a form of release, an opening. That happened again and again while I was experiencing The Magic Hour and I’m grateful for it.

Here’s my favourite quote: “Ideas are the beginning of everything. In the theatre, all we have is ideas. I will stuff your pockets with them.”

THE MAGIC HOUR Created by Kim Collier. Written by Kendra Fanconi. An Electric Company Theatre production at Presentation House on Tuesday, August 3. The run has been extended to September 4. Tickets.

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