Our Creation, Existence, & Destruction in 55 Minutes is a one-man show from recent John Abbott Theatre grad Ian Geldart. Supported by stage manager Natasha Gabriella Trepanier in minor speaking roles and the work of animator Dylan Alberts, Geldart sets out to explore the big picture laid out in the show’s title.
The idea isn’t new, but the nine-part structure is appealing, as are Geldart’s energy and Alberts’ animations. The material and performance, however, would both benefit from much more thought and direction.
Many of Geldart’s choices are questionable, most notably his portrayal of an ape using a thick, dumbed-down Southern accent that comes off as stereotypical and potentially racialized. Also problematic is Geldart’s consistently clichéd portrayal of women as superficial, emotional harpies, to a degree that the thesis of the Destruction II segment seems to be that the human race will self-destruct because women are angry man-haters and men are unfeeling douchebags (so at least both genders are belittled here, but it’s still not great).
The show’s pacing is also uneven. Existence I, a set of interviews with a boy and girl as they grow up and begin dating, goes on so long and says so little that by contrast Existence II seems to last only a minute. This is doubly unfortunate since Existence II makes an attempt at dealing with colonialism and genocide, but Geldart is so pressed for time that he effectively reduces the colonization of North America to one particularly violent football play drawn on a whiteboard, and then the scene is over.
As it stands right now, Our Creation, Existence, & Destruction in 55 Minutes is theatre that wants to make you think, performed by a young artist who is clearly talented but is in need of much more, and consistent, guidance. It will be interesting to see how and what Geldart is doing in five years’ time.
Our Creation, Existence, & Destruction in 55 Minutes is being performed at the MAI, until June 21st. Buy your tickets here. Note that this show makes extensive use of strobe lights without warning.