What does it mean to ‘get lost’? Do you merely step off the beaten track, realize your mistake, and step back on, or do you luxuriate in the uncertainty of your circumstances and explore?
Jem rolls, you can tell from this show, has been to a lot of places, and seems to have gotten himself lost in just about all of them. Get Lost isn’t a story, it’s more of a feeling, a sensation, one that can only be expressed through not just through many stories (you need more than one for there to be a common theme!) but also through wordplay because to be lost is not merely a physical experience but a mental one as well. Being lost in thought is also a part of getting lost, because there’s a lot of reflection in this show as well – a recurring motif is the universal aspects of human behaviour, whether it be people in line refusing to surrender their places to help a bleeding man, or the incredible discovery in southern India of ‘diet water.’ To all this rolls says “The human race: don’t you just love it? Yes I do. It’s the only possible way to cope with it.” There’s something very nice about that, the idea that the only way to get along with people is just to accept and love them anyway even though humanity is fundamentally absurd. This openness is the same thing, though, that keeps getting rolls into trouble, usually through absent-minded decisions to either follow a non-existent path or make his own shortcut, which leads to such awkwardness as unintentionally roaming a gay cruising ground or having to climb down a 30-foot waterfall because he left himself no other option.
Because the short stories all revolve around an experiential concept, there’s no particular order to them. Rolls draws from a series of cards that prompt each travel experience/spoken word piece (more on that below), and the order they go in as well as which ones get used are determined through this mechanism. It’s a little more structured than an improv show, but you are still guaranteed to have a different experience every time.
Get Lost is not just a series of travelogues, but it is also a spoken word piece. Many stories are told in prose, but every few minutes rolls slips into rhythmic, repetitive, and sometimes even rhyming language that allows for the audience to get lost in their thoughts as their minds trip over and consider the abstract concept of ‘lost.’ In a sense, Get Lost is rolls’ gadfly moment, using the materiality of his own language to inspire similar thoughts and emotions in his audience. It probably won’t encourage everyone to go drink fermented rice millet in Kathmandu, but it could inspire some to put a little less structure into their vacation plans and see what other places are actually like, even if they don’t find the trash heaps along the river in Agra as beautiful as rolls does.
Get Lost goes beyond the typical one-man show and while you might find yourself wondering what exactly it is you’re watching (if, like me, you’ve never seen a jem rolls show before), you’ll probably find yourself at the end wishing that it could keep going.
A Big Word Performance Poetry production
Created and Performed by Jem Rolls
At Studio Léonard-Beaulne