HIVE 3 vibrates like a cell in your mental crotch-pocket

By Glen Callender

HIVE 3, the latest edition of Vancouver’s notorious biannual alt-theatre extravaganza, is a midget Fringe festival stuffed into a dodgy pressure cooker that could explode at any moment. In a totally good way.

This time around, 14 local theatre companies have transformed the Centre for Digital Media into a cacophonous colony of intimate performance cells, each containing a strange and delicious morsel of over-the-top experimental theatre. Some productions are viewed in relative safety from behind an alleged fourth wall; others are interactive adventures where you are part of the show.

Further complicating matters, you can’t simply line up to get into most of these shows. Instead, you must earn your seat by tracking down a person or item in the crowded concourse area—a teddy bear, a photograph, a prescription, and a key, among other things, are your tickets to certain performances.

Some of these items are easy to find. Others are frustratingly elusive. Sometimes you choose a show. Sometimes a show chooses you. And thanks to a network of cameras and microphones concealed in the common areas, you may end up performing in at least one of the shows without your knowledge.

Intrigued? Of course you are.

Performances are short and snappy at 15 minutes max, but with 14 shows running continuously on independent schedules, it’s impossible to see everything in one night. But don’t sweat what you don’t see—the place is buzzing and there’s plenty of honey to go around.

In the end I managed to see five of the 14 shows—but I won’t attempt to influence your trajectory by reviewing any of them. With one exception.

Whatever you do, try not to miss a clever little truffle called Frisk. When you see people wearing large headphones wandering around the common area, look approachable. If you are approached (which is by no means guaranteed) you’re in for an amusingly invasive interactive experience. See it with a complete stranger. You probably will.

Make a beeline to HIVE 3. Be there when the doors open at 7 p.m. to maximize your show-going potential. And have fun, my beloved little theatre drones.

At the Centre for Digital Media (577 Great Northern Way) until March 20. Tickets @ http://www.vancouvertix.com/

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