When it comes to Theatre3, silence truly is golden.
The company incorporates mime, dance, clowning, music - just about every theatrical form but speech.
You don't need words to understand Matt Walley and Angela Horchem and the characters they bring to life with movement, masks and music.
The two opened "MixTape," their first production at Etcetera, the late-night arm of Live Theatre Workshop, on Friday (though these performances are not late night). The series of vignettes gave a wide sample of what audiences can expect from Walley and Horchem.
And what they can expect is often funny, sometimes disturbing, and almost always compelling.
The evening opened with Walley, in clown makeup and dress and a red stool strapped to his back, rolling in a trunk from the back of the theater. It couldn't fit down the aisle, so he persuaded - wordlessly - a row of people to get up and out of the way. Then he enlisted a member of the audience to help him get the trunk up over the small step to the stage. He did it all with an attitude that brought giggles as well as cooperation.
Once in place, Walley opened the trunk and began to unpack - a couple of glasses of water, masks, a pail. Then, suddenly, out glides a long, gloved hand, Horchem steps out and the evening takes off.
Some scenes were quite successful - Horchem's "Choose" had her reacting to frantic music - every time the word "go" was said, she would climb walls, do sit-ups, dance. Just as she seemed too exhausted to move, the music would rev up again, ordering her to go. It was mindless, painful, directionless movement - and not at all far off from what can happen when we blindly follow the voice of authority.
But her "Sorrow," a lovely piece done in mask, was too subtle and needed a bit of time pruned off to reach its full impact.
Walley went through an elaborate scheme with a hat that turned music on when he donned it, and off when he removed it. Perplexed, he puts it on, off, on, off. Different music each time. Finally, he moves out into the audience, pulls individuals on stage, and has them try the hat. Same thing happened: music on, off, on, off matched to hat on, off, on, off.
Now, audience participation is, well, most definitely not my favorite thing. Most people - or this writer, in any case - live in fear of being tapped to go on stage.
But there was something engaging and sweet about those who were pulled on stage by Walley, put the hat on, and began to sway to the music. It might have helped that he appeared to have had a few shills - high school theater students is our guess, who have no silly qualms about jumping on stage and becoming part of the show. They got the action going so that when Walley wandered farther out into the audience, folks were willing to play along.
Both actors move with grace and precision, necessary when doing physical theater. Walley's clown did wonders with just a look of surprise and innocence, and Horchem has a dancerly quality. While some stories worked better than others, this introduction of Theatre3 at Etcetera has enticed us enough that we are anxious to see what they do next.
• What: Etcetera's production of "MixTape."
• Created by: Theatre3.
• When: Final performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
• Where: Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway.
• Tickets: $10 at the door.
• Information: 327-4242.
• Running time: 75 minutes, with no intermission.