CFUV @ UNO: ‘eatingthegame’ review
Written by Festival Coverage on 05/20/2015
What is eatingthegame? Is it a motivational presentation, a real estate pitch, a blend of reality and fiction that defies all logical explanation? The answer? Yes.
When I interviewed Wylie two weeks ago, my research beforehand yielded some mixed results. Here was an actor whoâ€™s starred in productions like the Kite Runner in Edmonton, who supposedly gave it all up for real estate. But whatâ€™s he built? Whereâ€™s his obnoxious self-promoting Twitter account? WHO IS DON DRAPER?
I imagined it would be some kind of satirical show, but nothing could have prepared me for what I stepped into, what can best be described as a surreal 80 minutes of performance art. I spent most of the time wondering if I was in fact hearing what I thought I was hearing. It started as an over-the-top business presentation with Wylie running through the crowd and pumping his fists to a hackneyed soundtrack (U2, M83, Temper Trap), but it was delivered with a wink. The references to Victoria landmarks and contentious local developments flew fast and furiously, and there were a lot of laughs derived from our untreated sewage issues. Still, I didnâ€™t think it lived up to the hype. I had hoped he would react negatively when we laughed at him or something, something to make us squirm. For that, though, Iâ€™d have to wait until after the intermission.
The talkback was more interesting (and longer) than the production itself, which is no criticism of the show, because they complement each other perfectly. We learned how theatre is made and what attracts buyers where everything is bought and sold in a marketplace. The audience went on a journey together, one where we determined if Noodle Box or yoga was truly â€œWhite or Asianâ€, but mostly one where we wondered where â€œConorâ€ the character ended and Conor the person began. There were moments when Wylie became practically unhinged, and the show went to places that I couldnâ€™t have anticipated. It was ferociously funny and a strong demonstration of Hong Kong Exileâ€™s interdisciplinary skills (the video, lights, and music controlled by Remy Siu overwhelmed the senses with polish and weird, weird subject matter).
Though it does have a satirical bent, itâ€™s best viewed as a piece of performance art rather than social commentary, and by that metric it succeeds beyond any possible expectation. It got to the point where I wondered if my interview with him was just part of his game. I wanted so much to approach him after the show, but I didnâ€™t want to break the illusion. I was too scared.