Company: Monster Theatre, Vancouver, BC
Venue: 5 - Son of Warehouse
(Reviewed at the Toronto Fringe Festival)
You’ll never look at a Group of Seven landscape painting in the same way again.
At the beginning of this 75 minutes of masterful storytelling, writer/performer Bruce Horak warns that you will leave the show asking yourself if what he tells you is actually true. And I can verify that. I wanted to run out and simultaneously read up on Canadian artist Tom Thomson's life, the Group of Seven scandals, and Google Horak's own birthdate. (It is important to the story, trust me.)
Horak craftily winds a suspenseful tale of art and "murder most foul," combining historical facts with the conjecture of people who knew Thomson. He also interweaves his own fascinating story about functioning with only nine per cent of his vision, includes a quick snapshot into the Canadian art world, and explains the five critical skills of perception... all while painting the audience's portrait.
It is a stunning show that keeps you totally engaged and scratching your head at the number of similarities and coincidences that Horak shares with Thomson, as he muses on the mystery of the latter's disappearance and death.
Though the show raises more questions than it answers, Horak is a conspiracy theorist so convincing, you'll never look at a Group of Seven landscape painting in the same way again.