Fight Night questions the democratic system through audience participation

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fight-night-roman-sarah-eechautFive performers. Five rounds. Your vote. One survivor. But does your vote really matter?

Fight Night tested audiences on what they most want in a candidate: someone honest but erratic, a hero of a hostage situation, or maybe attractive but manipulative. We were given all these options through many polls and votes, but in the end I was left feeling a bit out of the loop. This wasn’t improv, so how much did our votes matter? Were they even counted at all?

We entered on a boxing ring platform. A square for the five competitors and one host, and a ‘judges booth’ for the two people working the computerized voting system. The set was evocative, there would clearly be a battle on stage… but it was used ineffectually. The actors stood in lines, sometimes indicating their popularity ranking, but it didn’t seem to go farther than that. We never had two characters battling it out, circling and throwing ‘jabs’ of wordplay at each other – what I expected to happen once I saw the design.

The host captured the fight night atmosphere well, engaging with the audience most effectively and providing a great comedic timing. Most of the candidates were likeable, as much as they’re supposed to be, and they performed well. Although it sometimes felt a little too scripted, you could tell they liked their characters. It felt like they collaboratively wrote the scripts themselves. At times, that made it sound a little stilted but overall it contributed to grounded performances.

Audiences get “entangled in an increasingly complex and puzzling system of rules and manipulations,” but knowing that going in made me extra-cautious. I tried taking steps back so I didn’t get caught up – I wanted to see through whatever manipulations these actors were going to throw at me, and not choose someone that ended up showing their ‘true colours’ later on. I feel as though I did that, but I can’t tell whether that was the point – am I still being manipulated?

It felt like it was trying to be a choose-your-own-ending type of play. I expected more improv and impassioned speeches, and a less scripted and deterministic of a finale. It came across conceptually like an election or political campaign, but it felt like a game of who can win the game. It never went further, despite seemingly being of the verge of taking it political.

Although I was a little caught off guard by the ending, it was thought-provoking and showed a large generational gap in the audience. When you’re given the opportunity to protest a seemingly democratic system, what would you do?

Through October 18 – 29, 2016, all tickets from just $20! Single tickets on sale now through The Cultch’s Box Office: 604-251-1363or tickets.thecultch.com. Plus, enjoy a lively post-show Q&A session with the artists: Oct 19, 23, 25.

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