Review: 81 Minutes (NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival)

Category: stage 148

“Encompassing an astounding spectrum of emotion that includes plenty of comedy and energy, 81 Minutes is a true powerhouse production from start to finish.”

Matt Carter

The clock is ticking.

Toronto’s Falling Iguana Theatre Company shared the world premiere of its latest production, 81 Minutes, last night as the kickoff to NotaBle Acts’ 20th anniversary Theatre Festival.  As the music began and the lights went down inside Theatre New Brunswick’s Open Space Theatre, the packed house (packed at a level in accordance to current health restrictions that is) was transported back in time to the events surrounding the famous art heist that took place at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in March of 1990.

As the story goes, the thieves took 81 minutes to complete their mission. 81 minutes to rob the museum of works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas and others while the two unfortunate security guards on duty that night waited to be rescued from a makeshift jail cell somewhere in the building’s basement. From the moment the first actors stepped on stage, a clock at centre stage began counting down with the performance lasting as long as the theft itself. 81, 80, 79…

81 Minutes is a wild ride. Devised as an act of physical theatre, the movement on stage is constant with five actors playing a myriad of characters from thieves and security guards to Gardner herself and the many people she shared her life with.

This show’s ensemble is outstanding. Co-creators Alexa Higgins and Ian Goff together with Jean-Michel Cliche, Jilly Hanson and Neomi Iancu Haliva delivered the performance’s traditional theatre aspects and its often over the top physicality with equal strength. One of the biggest challenges for a small ensemble playing multiple characters involves giving each new face a personality all its own. This cast proved more than able to meet that demanding task, whether imagining scenes from Gardner’s life as a prominent New England socialite or doing battle with stolen treasures that come to life on stage.

The show’s clever pairing of movement and dialogue remained cohesive the full way through offering compliment and presage to the characters, scenes and historical aspects of the show itself. Encompassing an astounding spectrum of emotion that includes plenty of comedy and energy, 81 Minutes is a true powerhouse production from start to finish. Don’t miss it! There are only a handful of performances remaining and tickets are going fast.

The clock is ticking.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of this performance, NotaBle Acts have added an additional performance Saturday at 2 p.m. Find full details on the show and reserve your tickets by visiting nbacts.com

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