A lightbulb, a chair and a bowl

It must be a magic trick, because Andy Massingham is going to hold the attention of a Yukon Arts Centre audience for one hour with just a lightbulb, a chair and a bowl.

“… and incredible shadows,” says Massingham over the phone discussing his play, Rough House, which shows at the Yukon Arts Centre April 23 and 24. He goes on to say this is a “one-man show” in name only.

“Michelle [Ramsay] runs the lights and I feel beautifully supported,” he says, pointing out that she and Rebecca Picherack won a Dora Award for Outstanding Lighting Design.

Of course, he is being modest as he fails to mention that he won a Dora for Outstanding Performance … an incredible feat considering he only has a light bulb, a chair and a bowl to work with.

“… and Julia [Sasso], my choreographer, who taught me a new world of falling.”

It should be explained that Massingham’s character falls a lot during this show. Although there are no words, a story is told of falling down and rising up again.

It becomes a “slapstick ballet” in which Massingham luxuriates in his love of physical comedy, clownwork and pratfalls that he had been practising since he was eight years old.

It began with the play (which Massingham says is a verb in this case). He played on stage and improvised and played some more.

“Remember back when we only had 15 minutes to play and we had to cram it all in before the school bell rang?” he asks. “We never lose it, we just put it on the back burner.”

Massingham played with the stage and a number of props, exploring the possibilities of each. Slowly, props were removed until only the bare minimum remained – a light bulb, a chair and a bowl — yet he was still able to tell a story.

Picherack joined him and she played and improvised with lighting.

The result is a story told in a compelling way.

Rough House (which is Vaudevillian for “pratfall”) shows at the Yukon Arts Centre April 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. with a 1 p.m. matinée on the second day. Tickets are available at the YAC Box Office and Arts Underground.

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