If you are no stranger to internal unease, don’t expect to catch a break in the safety of a darkened theatre at Theatre Yes’s production of Anxiety. With changing environments and interactions with the actors, this performance is a far cry from conventional. You might even find yourself fearing for your safety—both psychological and otherwise.
There are six rooms, each of which evokes the different fears and phobias hidden deep within human consciousness. Director Heather Inglis sees our society as one that has become anxious in its modernity. Technological advancements, endless choices, and manipulative advertising (to name a few) cause isolation and apprehension. But this collaboration of six small theatre companies across the country—ranging from Victoria to Montreal—aims to challenge perceptions and coping methods with an in-your-face approach.
Ever suffered from PTSD, agoraphobia, or a fear of death? If you haven’t, that might change throughout the show. If it doesn’t, you will witness these worries in the people around you, both from actors and audience members alike. That’s what makes this production unique—the artists and observers are almost one and the same. There is no stage, and it’s not always clear if the previously unnoticed characters are part of the show. The one distinguishing feature is their display of anxiety on the outside that the rest of the crowd dares only feel on the inside.
Unexpectedly, the show goes beyond exhibiting the many faces of anxiety, and also encourages audience members to acknowledge its presence in themselves and then share these fears with others. With plenty of fighting and chanting from actors—who are convincing in their craziness—the nervous looks from fellow audience members comes as a relief. It is intriguing and even humorous to find a common ground in the collective discomfort.
The whole experience made me look around and realize that—more likely than not—everyone in the room suffers from at least one of the anxieties we experienced together. In the program handed out at the end of the play, Inglis notes that “our most primal and profound fear is our annihilation via time, event, or both.” This idea of a universal fear begs the question of whether people’s anxieties can be quelled by talking openly about them and finding they are not alone. The play certainly begins that process by stuffing strangers in a room to face their inner struggles, with after-effects of empathy and discussion.
Until Sun., Dec. 4
La Cité Francophone, $16.75