A non-stop barrage of nonsense, non-sequiters and wilfully impenetrable sequences, Absurdesque has a good shot at earning the title of most challenging performance at this year's Rodeo. German theatre company Theaterlabor makes one concession to their audience in translating the play's dialogue into English, but outside of that, no effort is made to ease the audience into the work. It starts suddenly and with manic energy, then alternates between frenetic bursts and exhausted collapse, and as far as figuring out what it's all supposed to mean, well, that's pretty explicitly beside the point.
Suffice to say, Absurdesque is not performance at its most user-friendly. What it does offer, though, is sheer commitment to a form. As chaotic as the stage action can get, it is still highly choreographed, as the sudden transitions from mood to mood and from moment to moment clearly attest, and the cast takes full advantage of the Lunchbox's space, making sure audience members on all three walls will have plenty to look at. This is a meticulously constructed performance, executed with complete confidence and an enviable lack of self-confidence.
It's also exhausting, though. With no real narrative or even characterization, the audience is left to either search for meaning in the looped structure and repeated phrases, or to just sit back and go along for the ride. Which, according to the brief definitions of absurdism offered within Absurdesque, is kind of the point – the play confronts you with meaninglessness so that you can better accept the meaninglessness of reality. If that sort of metaphysical assault sounds like a good time to you, it'll be a long while before you'll see an example of this calibre in Calgary again. Just don't expect them to go easy on you.
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