53 minutes | Musical | G
By Amanda Dookie
Hard Times is a solo performance featuring the early 1900’s style of Vaudeville theatre. In history, the genre past it’s heyday in the 1930’s during the Great Depression when film and radio began to gain popularity. This performance pays homage to this event by depicting the final act of what would be a Vaudeville play, referred to as the Chaser. The act was performed as a monologue with various intermittent songs sung by Bremner Duthie. His character grieved the end of the play and of theatre in general in the “hard times” of a society going through a socioeconomic transition, in which the arts is one of the first to go.
I felt that the play was a high intensity and high energy performance – but that it came off as too overly dramatic with not enough variation between moods. The style was Vaudeville, but the composition of the play was not, because it was not made up of a series of unrelated acts, which is characteristic of the genre and would have made the play more interesting. The monologue had some comical moments, which once in a while captured me, but overall the script remained for too long on the same topic, without variation in how it was portrayed. I felt that theme of the entire performance remained concentrated on the same topic – the demise of theater - and failed to provide any new ideas about it or ways to depict it. Instead it came off as a string of repetitive drama and loud singing.
However, I think the message conveyed in this performance is one of great importance to artists, performers, and theatre-goers a like: there is value in the arts, beyond monetary gains, and it’s important to keep that love for creativity alive, especially during times of shifting values in the sociopolitical and economic world.
Hard Times is playing at Venue 3 – Academic Hall (133 Seraphin Marion Private) on Tuesday June 19 at 9:30 pm; Wednesday June 20 at 9:30 pm; Friday June 22 at 9:30 pm; Saturday June 23 3:30 pm; Sunday June 24 at 4:30 pm.