Blooming Ludas presents Power Story – a tooth-achingly sweet participatory, environmentally friendly piece of storytelling. Co-Artistic Directors Haeweon Yi and Francine Dulong take time to get to know each audience member before immersing us in the world of Bloomingdale, a struggling town with an energy problem.
We meet the mayor and her assistant as they explain the trials and tribulations of living in 2050, a dystopian world in which there are frequent blackouts and one’s chance of making a tea or coffee is none existent. With the help of a multi-rolling Dulong as the pesky fox, the audience must assist the mayor in various playful tasks to connect the dots and turn the energy back on. Cardboard boxes fill the performance space atop of white tape structured like a particle, surrounded by recycled tealights, occupied by miniature, homemade LED bulbs. The boxes have QR codes (a smartphone-readable code, in this case used for storing videos) attached to them for the audience to scan on their phones and watch an explanatory video… but technical gimmicks often elicit problems that are inevitable. Although a little flustered, the actors moved the piece forward efficiently without causing a scene.
Dulong speaks with clarity and confidence, and it is clear she is highly knowledgeable on the topics contained within the piece. The actors create a relaxed environment, which allows the audience to express themselves freely during the piece, ensuring the journey is an enjoyable one. In an interactive piece of theatre, no two audiences are the same, therefore the actors must be competent improvisers in order to react accordingly. However, Haeweon Yi lacks these skills and is often left scrambling for words when confronted with a question or a problem. The piece explores themes of environmental issues with slightly too much exposition, and the target audience seems confused. The storytelling is not satirical enough to feel suitable for an adult audience, yet the information is too wordy and difficult for a younger audience. A clearer vision of this may propel the piece forward in a stronger direction.