Codex Nocturno is visually entertaining performance art, so if you are looking for a play in the traditional sense of the word – this is not the show for you. If you want to have things to talk about after a show, then buy a ticket.
The really cool part is the use of the art gallery space that has been transformed into a beautiful theatre. With moon-like lights on the floor, vases filled with flowers and themes of white and red, it is incredibly striking from the moment you walk on; and they continue to use the space well, especially in terms of depth, with the addition of the garage door.
It is a multi-media piece with live theatre interacting with video footage – one eyeball piece particularly stands out and is not for the squeamish. There are also sleeping faces that are constantly there, accompanied by an effective soundtrack, and thought-out lighting.
However, at around the 30-minute mark you really had to give up any notion of figuring out just what on earth was going on. There was no determinable storyline and the performers were all fine actors, but it was impossible for me to engage with their characters. As the piece went on, I found it more and more confusing.
The two ‘owners’ of what could be a hotel for dreamers – or perhaps as some friends discussed afterwards, a place where you go to die – were fine, but there wasn’t enough substance for us to get attached to them. The ‘manager’ character gets better as the show goes on and I found him one of the more interesting players. The two ‘guests’ mostly just added to the confusion and the ‘angels’ provided some nice comic relief.
The stand-out performance was that of the robot/doll. Her entrance was my favourite moment and her movement was flawless: her tea pouring was seamless, and her voice! Well, I am still trying to figure out how she did that, but it was fantastic.
Other take home moments for me were the snow scene, the operation scene and the general moments where themes or words were repeated throughout the show conveying this idea of a dreamlike state.
I think if you let it sort of wash over with you and connect with what you connect with, rather than try and understand the intention, then you will probably enjoy it a lot more.
I am not sure how long this piece was workshopped for. I think that there may have been a lot of ideas which seemed great in the rehearsal room, but that should have either been fleshed out or flushed away for the final piece. It felt to me like everyone may have been too close to the show to be objective.
At 1 hour and 50 minutes it felt too long. Around the 75 minute mark I felt like it had come to a natural end. Looking around me it seemed that the rest of the audience felt it too. It looked like hard work for the cast to keep the momentum for the ensuing 35 minutes.
But it was a show that we talked about after and I am still thinking about it now, which is a good sign. I commend the collective for bringing something different to the Toronto audience and I would recommend this to people who like their theatre a little off the straight and narrow.
– Kadozuke Kollekftif presents Codex Nocturno at the Image Foundry, 1581 Dupont Street, at 8 p.m.
– The show runs from June 10th to July 3rd, 2011.
– Tickets are $20 for students/artists and $25 for adults
– Tickets can be purchased online or by phone: (647) 367-1015