Do the math

Rating: NNNNNAn inexperienced tutor, his hyper-intelligent pupil and the young man's devoted mother form a tantalizing triangle in Geometry In.

Rating: NNNNN

An inexperienced tutor, his hyper-intelligent pupil and the young man’s devoted mother form a tantalizing triangle in Geometry In Venice.Set in late 19th-century Europe and focused on the impecunious, ever-evasive Moreen family, Michael Mackenzie’s intelligent, playful script reveals the triangle’s sharp edges and the relationships among various tangential figures.

But the numbers only start to add up in the second act. The first — opening-night jitters? — is too cool and distant, notable mainly for Luke Kirby’s gawky, human Morgan, the prize student just discovering his sexual feelings. Midway through the evening, though, director Ken Gass and cast connect with and heighten the emotions played out in Victoria Wallace’s columned, architectural set and illuminated by Rebecca Picherack with mathematically precise shapes.

Real drama

The best scenes in the production are between Pemberton (Graeme Somerville), the teacher who himself gets an education, and Mrs. Moreen (Nola Augustson), who gives off a whiff of flirtation at their first meeting. There’s real drama when their relationship starts to smoulder, and the connection is neatly paralleled by the growing connection between student and instructor.

But it’s not until near the end that Juno Mills-Cockell as the suitor-hungry Amy Moreen has the play’s most forceful moment, in a scene that also shows up the false bonhomie and optimism of her father (Graham Harley). And despite good acting work, Adrian Churchill can’t do much with the figure of novelist Henry James, whose fiction contributes to the play’s tone but who functions in the play as little more than a plot device. JK

*GEOMETRY IN VENICE, by Michael Mackenzie, directed by Ken Gass, with Nola Augustson, Graeme Somerville, Graham Harley, Luke Kirby, Juno Mills- Cockell and Adrian Churchill. Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). Runs to November 5, Tuesday-Saturday at 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm and Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc. 504-9971. Rating: NNNN

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