Things seem really great the first time around. They're really fresh and fabulous, and then later on…not so good. That seems to be the case with FireBelly's new production, Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love. When the play was initially done in 1989, it was shocking and risqué, stirring the shit up. Unfortunately, fifteen years later, by no fault of the actors or the director, the play has lost most of its initial clout. When it comes to sex and violence in entertainment, the public outcry has dwindled into a "been there, done that" sentiment. Those dark things in the corner and behind closed bedroom doors are now openly talked about and picked apart by Dr. Phil.
Six Edmontonians wait fearfully while a serial killer stalks the city. Human Remains examines these lives twist and turn while they all remain trapped and scared. Though the current incarnation of Human Remains fails to stun today's audiences, it's definitely still worth the price of the ticket (very affordable, especially for students). Except for minor things, like an unbelievable sex scene between Candy and Robert (It's one of those things you're pretty sure you've done, and it sure as hell didn't look that way when you tried it.), FireBelly theatre's production is still fabulous. A unique set, a mainstage decorated into Candy and Robert's house and smaller platforms for each character, is decked out with paintings done by a local artist reflecting the essence of a specific character. You can see how the artist was able to paint specific portraits for each character, as each role is well casted. Once you see them on stage it's hard to imagine anybody else yelling, swearing and beating each other in those roles. Sure, they're a disturbed and mentally dysfunctional group, but as reality television shows, the public has predilection towards voyeurism. Everyone likes to watch people who are more fucked-up then they are in action and there isn't a better example of this than the seven people featured in Human Remains. Not even the latest season of Survivor can match this.
Even though it won't alarm or outrage the way it once did, FireBelly's Human Remains will move you. It is a powerful story trapping sympathetic characters in a clean and stylized production of depravity… Well mild depravity and that's all we can really ask for these days.