Originally published by The Haiku Guys and Gals on September 4th, 2015
electric fences
surround our zones of comfort
silent until crossed

We love art, and we love pushing the boundaries of genres and experiencing things that are non-traditional, experimental, or just plain fresh. You probably feel the same. Sometimes, people that know us ask us to come take a look at their shows, read their work, and review their projects, and we are usually apt to accept these invitations. So when Toro Communications asked us to have a look at Third Space’s production of FIREFACE, we were happy to preview the piece.

But what do you do when you are asked for your honest reaction to a piece of artwork, and it was in fact something that was so painful to you, that you can barely review it? Not poor quality, not boring, not pretentious, but painful. Well, honesty and respect seem to be good rules of thumb, because after we privately shared our response, Toro discussed with the stakeholders in the production, and the response was in fact well-received, and they were even happy to know what we feared would be offensive or upsetting to them. They were so happy with our terror, in fact, that they asked us to share publicly our response, below, in Lisa’s words:

I thought the painful intricacies of all of the individual relationships were realistic to the unfortunate, rotting nuclear family that we try to analyze so much, at least at first…
The staging was very innovative, though it did feel deeply uncomfortable in a way, like the audience was a crowd of witnesses watching a mass murder or civil war, almost as if it was in a petri dish. Really, the reason I don’t think I could recommend it overall was that the subject matter was the darkest and most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life- maybe that means the acting was very good too, because it was so intense I could barely watch at times, and I felt a lot of sadness and sympathy even for the psycopathic brother.
One thing I wondered afterward (I could barely even speak for the rest of the night!) was if the writer and actors actually wanted to cause mental harm to the audience? What is the meaning of creating something so demonic? Catharsis?
Anyway, it was an educational experience for me, to be sure, because up till now I’d never seen something too “intense” or “weird” or “experimental” — now I have!

The director of Third Space, Benjamin Viertel, responded to our thoughts, in a productive way:

The play is completely unapologetic and the playwright’s interests were to write a play that has never been seen or imagined before. He is interested in telling horror stories, and the realization the parents undergo, their child being psychopathic, is one of the most human and unspoken truths of life and what it means to be a human in today’s world.
The play examines almost all human fears, not only as a viewer of a play, but intentionally designed and directed by the Third Space team as an experience. Third Space’s mission is to create experiences beyond a traditional passive relationship between audience and actor/text. We aim to create memorable and intense experiences and even though it wasn’t a pleasurable one, it was an effective one based on your response.

We want to thank Toro, the fine people at The Brick and Third Space, and the truly stunning cast that put on a piece that, while disturbing, is so impressive in its abaility to go beyond any sort of traditional or passive experience. If you are the type that likes to push your own boundaries, it is showing at 7pm tonight and tomorrow, so grab a ticket here, and don’t plan to go out partying afterward.

you will never know
until you test the fringes
of your boundaries