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Bat Brains is Ambitiously Charismatic, Experimental theatre at its best

By Ezekiel McAdams

April 19 2024

Bat Brains Poster.jpg

  Live Five’s penultimate production of the season is Bat Brains from RedRum Theatre. Co-created by Sam Kruger and S.E. Grummett, it stars Kruger in the title role of Scud the vampire with Grummet directing.

  Bat Brains runs from April 18th to the 28th at the Refinery.                              

  Bat Brains is about Scud the vampire and also Kruger, the performer who delves into his inner psyche makes the audience question social constructs pertaining to existentialism and mental health.

  Bat Brains is an undefinable one man show exploring mental health under the guise of vampirism. It is experimental, it amalgamates genres and styles of clowning, masking, fringe theatre and surrealism that creates a unique live theatre experience that can’t be replicated.

More specifically, this production utilizes techniques such as Lecoq style physical theatre and evoking the style of the Gaulier clown. Lecoq comes from Jacques Lecoq, a French actor and movement coach, which focused on physicality and movement. Whereas Gaulier, a French master clown who founded Ecole Philippe Gaulier and focused on the Bouffon style of clown, which specializes in a balance of grotesque and charm.

  Kruger is charismatic, magnetic and raw in his performance. Effortlessly funny and charming, with the ability to harness audience engagement but to twist expectations as Andy Kaufman once did with a raw, gutsy energy that questioned the audience when to laugh or clap? Kruger’s use of physicality is mesmerizing as he glides and dances throughout the production with ease that feels natural and organic.

  Grummett’s direction is gripping and commanding and feels symbiotic with Kruger’s performance on stage culminating in a strong sense of self .Grummett, who is also a playwright is building a strong resume as a performer, playwright and director that will be exciting to see what they do in the future.

  Emily Heinek does a great job as costume designer; the costumes are realistic and perfectly grounded against the surrealism on stage. Heinek also doubles as stage director and does a great job keeping the production on track.

  Amberlin Hsu’s lighting is exceptional in its style and bringing to life the various abrupt scene changes from Scud’s inner thoughts, dance numbers and the jarring emotional punches throughout.  

  Ingrid Hansen’s choreography is remarkable as how important it is to the flow of the production and Kruger’s portrayal as Scud the vampire. The choreography is nuanced, absurd, surreal and classical in its approach that falls in line with with the rest of the production, undefinable.

  Bat Brains is a cavalcade of why live theatre is not only thrilling but important. Kruger’s performance is simply majestic, effortlessly funny, genuine, raw and charismatic all at once. While this production might not be for everyone, for theatre lovers whether traditional, Fringe or experimental, Bat Brains is the epitome of what theatre can do and be.

  Bat Brains is playing at the Refinery in Saskatoon on Dufferin from April 18th to the 28th. Tickets can be bought online at Live Five or On The Boards or by calling the box office.

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