Theatre Gargantua’s signature acrobatics are at full force in the current production of Avaricious. Brilliantly executed physicality is woven throughout an eighty minute tour de force, commingling with song, masked minstrelsy, and fast paced, breakneck repartee. Greed, in the form of a very wealthy dog loving white guy, plays a central narrative role as corporeal twists and turns overwhelm the stage and to some extent usurp a singular parable-like narrative that cannot compete with the intense theatric[k]s.
The ensemble is impeccable, taking on a variety of individual and choral roles with great dexterity. But the story, loosely based upon research into a mammoth mutli-million dollar house overlooking the slums of a third world city lacks depth - depending upon melodramatic, fable like dialogue in order to move the action along. Had the script included some very real gestures toward celebrities currently in legal hot water for their aqua thieving ways, or Hollywood icons with green green lawns in the midst of drought along this – or any – continents toasty southern – and northern – coastlines, well, there might have been a bit more much needed substance to hold on to. Ultimately we drown in a hunger for quick bouncy sensation, all the time thirsty for a bit more meaty story.
At the end of the play extremely effective translucent Pilates balls, used throughout as planetary metaphors, take on a meta-theatrical tone as one hopes and wonders – wonders and hopes – regarding the future of destructive plastic props filled with water that help move a shallow script through the melodramatic narrative strains of a mega-message that lacks substance, articulation, and severe dramaturgical layering. The exercise balls have been partially filled with water. One prays agnostically that there is enough post- production money left to deflate the props, extract the water, and carry on until the next flood of arc-like proportions hits the world meta-stage. And then there’s the lame self- righteous nerve of one blogger who wishes there was more one could do than pen a simple story about complex and terrifying issues. There obviously is. Avaricious however, despite an extremely entertaining cabaret-like succession of scenes, doesn’t quite manage to pack enough narrative punch.
But there are stunning moments, and a big friendly skilfully executed and manipulatively managed hug monologue about midway through the action that may warm (i.e. microwave) and fondle the cockles of your heart and make you want to just go out and buy something cuddly…like a pillow or a blanket or a brand new leather satchel - or an expensive oil-based life preserver…