Kris Rothstein's Blog

PuSh 2017: Things a Person is Supposed to Wonder

Kris Rothstein

Is one of the things we are supposed to wonder: what is going on? Canadian artist Bridget Moser’s performance at the Fox Cabaret in Vancouver was both amusing and perplexing. Some laughed heartily (while still muttering ‘what?!’) but I watched indulgently without fully embracing the shtick.

You have to admire Moser’s commitment to her work. This includes taking awkwardness to ridiculous ends. Moser uses a lot of odd props--a ladder perched on her head and shoulders, a plunger suctioned to her face or stomach , a carpet remnant wrapped around her leg (“I don’t shave the left one”)--and she does skillfully use them but at the price of her own contortions and discomfort. Moser likes to hang items off her body in strange ways, to slither through things, to bend. This physical prop comedy is one of the most appealing and effective elements of her act. I’ve never seen ‘things’ employed in quite this way and it made me wonder more about objects and the various ways they can fit into our world.

In addition to working with her inanimate cast, Moser dances, quietly asks, confidently strides. She takes up space and puts on a show best called absurdist. The result might be awkward or it might be beautiful. While her antics might not have provoked a strong response at the time, I have found myself ruminating about her work in the days since the show. It seems as if it does steep and produce a more intense feeling after the fact.

This is a show for people who have always thought everything looked too easy, for whom the world seems strange, alienating, confusing. Bridget Moser takes this notion of discomfort to another level, where nothing is obvious and where any question is legitimate. It is the land of non-sequiturs, party-forgotten dreams and jokes taken to the extreme.

The difference between performance and comedy is that in performance you don’t have to land any jokes. I think this piece needed to do so a bit more. However, It seems like Things a Person is Supposed to Wonder might have been a little bit of 'best of,' a few different pieces strung together. The transitions in this piece were sometimes loose and random which might be explained by it being compromised of various segments. The choreography, however, was amazing, and seemed effortless even though you could tell it was a lot of work. I might have preferred a thoughtful long form piece which developed and hope to see one in future. Much of Moser’s work is documented in video and makes for compelling viewing. Go and watch some!

For me the piece was a just a little underwhelming. But it seems that it is still avant-garde and revolutionary for a woman to unapologetically stand before an audience and be bizarre for an hour. If that is true, then it is still something that needs to be done.



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