If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s home and discover all their dark secrets, then Nervous Hunter’s new play, Domestik is a voyeuristic must-see. That is, if you’re willing to stand up for two hours. The performance consists of four unrelated episodes enacted simultaneously in different rooms of a small apartment.
Instead of sitting the audience down in front of a stage, director Sophie Gee chooses to let them wander and walk in and out of pieces whenever they choose. The performances in each room play in loop, so the audience has a chance to see every segment.
The only direction the audience is given is not to open any closed doors. The role of the audience is essentially that of a voyeur, spying on the characters and eavesdropping on their intimate conversations. From its evocative set design, to the excellent casting, and the role of the audience, Domestik certainly stands out from traditional theatre.
Sabrina Miller’s production design was impeccable, every detail was well thought out. The apartment is adorned with FedEx envelopes addressed to 7240 Clark randomly thrown around, also art magazines, old books, board games, and a piano. There are big mirrors in every room, suggesting the split personalities, secrets, and complicated relationships that are present in Domestik. The house is filled with objects that represent the characters in some way, such as a diary laying open on a desk .
The first character the audience is literally greeted by is a passionate new wave fan, Wes (Christopher Charles Cavener). He provides most of the comic relief in an otherwise serious play. For instance, Wes’ only friend is a talking mouse. Wes is trying to audition members for his band, Uberzone, and invites members of the audience to try out for a spot. This marks the only time when the audience is directly involved and allowed to participate with an actor.
Another character in the house Lavet (Jacqueline van de Geer), a lonely woman whose only passion in life is making pies. She listens to what sounds like a communist manifesto on the radio and talks to herself while she cooks. “Your hands are your best tools,” says the radio receiver. Geer is ingenious in her self-absorption. Her character is the one who remains unresolved, unknown, and mysterious, for the entire play.
In another room are Stephen (Carlo Mestroni) and Lauraine (Shannon Topinka), whose quickly blossoming romance ends as suddenly as it begins. Emotionally charged, Mestroni and Topinka deliver pure romance and heartbreak all in a 20 minute emotional rollercoaster.
There is also a love triangle occurring in the house between Ina (Karine Lefebvre), Malcolm (Chimwemwe Miller), and Geneva (Leigh Ann Taylor). These three characters take the audience through the house. From a bit of chicanery between Lefebvre and Miller in the hallway, to a sleepwalking Ina almost attacking Geneva with a knife, the audience is left tiptoeing after characters as they move from one room to another. This episode keeps the audience in utter awe.
Domestik is a unique theatrical performance which involves the audience as much as the actors. Although the audience follows and watches in silence throughout the piece, it is difficult not to feel like part of the action. It is a guilty pleasure to see all the emotional outbursts of the characters, read their intimate journals and sit on their couch. Each story begins on a positive note and ends in bitterness, but is thoroughly entertaining nonetheles. Wear comfortable shoes, it is worth the stand.
Domestik plays at Eastern Bloc, 7240 Clark Oct. 1-4, 8-11
Doors: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15/$12 students