Art Smitten

On Air

Review: Milk Bars


Milk Bars in an installation and performance piece, it is based at The Mechanics Institute in Brunswick by Metanoia Theatre. The installation spread all across the Mechanics Institute, with five spaces and the theatre space being used as a central meeting point and bar that most audience members gravitated towards. 

The installation ranged from abstract to realistic interpretations of ‘a milk bar’ some were very interesting and beautiful, my favorite was the dressing room of the theatre that had been turned into a realistic home, perhaps out the back of a milk bar. Some of the installations seemed under done, one of the rooms had pixilated images of old fashions shelves like you’d see in a milkbar, and advertisements playing on another projector, the space was very white and felt unwelcoming, I did not like going into that space.

Throughout the space and all at different times were short performances by a handful of different actors, musicians and performance makers, and also the Executive Director of the Convenience and Mixed Business Association. The Performance styles were diverse, but I did not find this to be a a good thing, they ranged from avant garde movement pieces to monologues and story telling delivered to the audience, I found the performances to be inconsistent and jarring moving from one to the other.

One of the more confusing performances was Domenic Greco the Executive Director of the Convenience and Mixed Business Association giving a monologue about his childhood growing with his parents owning a milk bar and all the benefits this had to him and his towns community. Parts of his speech were very sweet, but some of it made me feel alienated and offended, he heavily critiqued modern society and the ‘rise of the supermarket’ and how its contributed to a lack of community which to me seemed a bit bias, and he didn’t touch on how supermarkets can be a positive influence, and how with negatives come positives, like the convenience of being able to buy all your goods in one place and employment. I was unsure what he was trying to get across to the audience, perhaps his speech was aimed at people who grew up and rasied their families when milk bars were still around and the main place people went for their goods.

The audience could move around the space as they wish but there was little indication of how the night would play out which left me feeling lost and confused and at times lonely because it was unclear what I was meant to be doing, and the program shed no light on it either.

Perhaps a few more performers acting as ushers to guild audience members around the space would have been helpful, this would also have helped activate the space because at times it felt static and awkward. Milk Bars would have benefited from a larger ensemble of performers with a consistent performing style; this would have made the space feel more friendly, welcoming and joyous.

Milk Bars by Metanoia is showing at The Mechanics Institute in Brunswick until August 6th.

Written by Ebony Beaton