Kris Rothstein's Blog

PuSh Festival: Floating

Kris Rothstein

The story of Floating itself is quite simHugh Hughes tries to leave his home on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey after his gradmother dies. He is prevented by a tectonic event (which he claims was real) which shatters the bridge off the Island. Anglesey then floats away on a journey around the Atlantic and during this time Hughes tries to swim away (with a life vest of oranges) but ultimately is forced to consider the meaning of home and community. However it is the layers of meaning and the many many layers of performance, style and humour that take over and propel this performance piece at the 2011 PuSh Festival in Vancouver.

The presentation is more naturalistic in style than typical performance pieces but more unusual than most theatre. Wrestling magazines, photos and volcanic rock are passed around. The show is almost a cross between storytelling and stand-up comedy. You might want to call it audience participation but it is more like audience inclusion. Hughes checks to see if anyone wants to change seats, take a bathroom break or wants a bottle of water. He also challenges our ideas about what is preamble and what is actually part of a story. In general the audience enjoyed this and did feel a part of something (hopefully even the latecomers who remained the butt of kind-hearted jokes throughout the show) but did not engage in an adventurous way. The exception was a very young and spry eighty year-old woman who shouted out that she'd like to see Hughes dance when he'd stripped down to some speedos. He didn't oblige but has encouarged it when he mentioned that "right now I am completely naked, above the socks, completely nude and I point this out because it's really very nice."

I originally assumed that the whole show was scripted but when we did get out fifteen minutes late I started to wonder just how much ad-libbing and flexibility might be involved. The amateurism of the show is an obvious put-on but, in spirit, it is true. Hughes does just want to get together with a group of people to entertain them with a sense of spontaneity and he's not worried about looking or sounding silly. This is the point of PuSh - you can't exactly define the experience but it is something different, compelling and fun.

Floating runs until February 5 at the Arts Club Revue Stage. 8pm (Tuesdays 7:30pm). Also running in Victoria and Toronto. Watch clips of the show here.



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