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Friday, April 19, 2024

Theatre review: Robert Lamar commits wholly to The Gift

The Gift continues at St. Andrew's United Church in Halifax until March 9.

Some of the last words spoken by actor Robert Lamar in The Gift, now on stage until March 9 at St. Andrew’s United Church, are an appeal to keep the show’s content private lest it might spoil some of its surprises for future audiences. There is no denying that admonishment makes it challenging for a theatre critic.

Lamar’s “autobiographical” one-person show takes place in a reproduction of his deceased grandfather’s attic by set designer Steven Turner. According to the obituary on the backside of the show’s programme, Lamar’s grandfather, Robert Doucette, was a mathematician who dedicated his life to proving that everything in a person’s life happens for a reason and nothing occurs at random. Doucette died just before his book The Key to Destiny was published.

According to the narrative, a young Lamar grew up as one of the “thousands of subjects” who participated in his grandfather’s experiments and games to help prove his theory.

Lamar furthers his grandfather’s ideas in The Gift by conducting several of those same experiments.

As a storyteller, Lamar is engaging, effortlessly weaving snippets of family life, with and without his grandfather. But he is most entertaining as he recreates many of those experimental games with the help of audience volunteers, culminating in a beautifully executed finale.

For those looking to get up close and personal, volunteer audience participation is a big part of The Gift.
For those looking to get up close and personal, volunteer audience participation is a big part of The Gift. Photo: Experience The Gift/Facebook.

Ultimately, Lamar and The Gift‘s writer, Robert Ulrich, fully commit to a show that is not always what it seems. The experience is summed up nicely by magician, mentalist, and comedian Eric Mead, who once said, “The placebo effect is where something fake becomes something real because of your perception of it.”

The Gift, written and directed by Robert Ulrich. A Brookes Diamond Productions presentation. On stage in the basement of St. Andrew’s United Church (6036 Coburg Rd, Halifax) until March 9. Visit experiencethegift.ca for tickets and information.

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