Daniel MacIvor's frenetic solo performance is one of the highlights of the High Performance Rodeo at the Epcor Centre. Props? A book, a winter coat and a Starbucks coffee cup. Venti.
That buzz you've been hearing at this year’s HPR is people asking “how does he do all that?” They’re talking about Daniel MacIvor and This Is What Happens Next. And what happens next is remarkable.
When MacIvor rushes onto stage, apologizing for being late for his own one-man show (and blaming it on the women in front of him at Starbucks), the award-winning playwright and performer rapidly launches into a whirlwind 90 minutes of high-octane shape-shifting that questions the concepts of truth, happiness and fate. A ring of a cell phone – and some dramatic lighting and sound effects to punctuate the bare stage – is all it takes to transform him from character to character. Warren, who is trying to simultaneously retrieve his stuff from his ex and ignore a call from his lawyer, becomes Susan the lawyer with the troubled teenaged daughters who can make that date with the astrologer after all. The astrologer with the sexual secret morphs into Mike, the alcoholic dad who now finds he has spend the day looking after his estranged son Kevin. Kevin invents stories about giants to explain his father's drinking and he is pretty excited about getting his training wheels removed from his bike this afternoon.
With rapid-fire delivery and mesmerizing fluidity, Daniel MacIvor manipulates the fates of these characters through the interjection of a someone called Will – a play on Schopenhauer’s concept of will as a driving force of humanity. Relentless, neurotic and often comical, This Is What Happens Next shape-shifts the truth in search of a happy ending to this play. But as one character describes it, that happiness is sharpened to a fine point.
“That was quite a roller-coaster ride,” exclaimed one HP Rodeo regular, as the lights came back up. “I knew he would wrap it all up at the end,” confided another, “but getting there, that was absolutely amazing.”
This Is What Happens Next is what happens when master storyteller Daniel MacIvor realizes that he does have one more one-man show in him after all (after announcing his retirement from solo performance in 2007). It’s a happy ending for all of us.
A co-presentation by High Performance Rodeo and Alberta Theatre Projects, This Is What Happens Next runs at the Martha Cohen Theatre in the Epcor Centre until February 3.