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Robin Williamson

Aptly subtitled, A Sensation, Liitoja’s eighth tribute to the poetry of Ezra Pound roused its audience to feverish excitement or frustration and, for some, both. Devoid of plot, though not of structure, Poundemonium was a three-and-a-half hour collage of taut, wildly idiosyncratic performances whose edges overlap and mesh to create an astounding whole. The large cast’s sublime characterizations ranged from macabre to ridiculous: a young girl in a crumpled party dress described waiting for a lover - lost or dead - while tracing her forearm with a knife; an American pilot replete with old-fashioned flying goggles made a solemn patriotic address to a crowd of stuffed animals.

Generous use of music from Verdi to Benny Goodman, an elaborate rigging of trademark bare light bulbs, and the hovering presence of Liitoja himself – directing the performers throughout the show – complemented this piece which was more like a symphony than a play.

As with most DNA productions, the space (in this case a cavernous church) was used fully; performances happened simultaneously everywhere from the lobby to the organ pipes, freeing the audience to move about. The possibility of allowing interest to dictate not only which mini-performances to watch, but for how long and at what distance is thrilling. However, a few found their delight turn to horror as the performers sought their undivided attention.

To some, Liitoja’s penchant for repetition and the show’s unusual length might have proved tedious and unbearable. But for those willing to abandon linear expectations and match Liitoja’s formidable imagination with their own, the trip was ultimately worthwhile.

Theatrum Sep/Oct’93