Michael Ross Albert's early play set in the art milieu could use a sounder structure
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENEST AT THE HOUSTON ASTRODOME by Michael Ross Albert (High Park Productions). At the Freedom Factory Gallery (22 Dovercourt). July 9-15 at 8 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN
It’s easy to see why producer Lauren MacKinlay and High Park Productions were keen to stage the Canadian debut of local writer Michael Ross Albert‘s 2014 play.
It has Albert’s snappy dialogue, five plum roles, and they’ve landed an ideal space for it at the Freedom Factory Gallery. On its walls are the work of four artists, presumably the only pieces that haven’t been destroyed or torn down by Caroline (a deliciously caustic Anne van Leeuwen), who’s gone on a vandalizing spree shortly before the play’s opening scene.
But, and this may be because I’ve seen so much of Albert’s work recently, the structure of the play isn’t quite as sound as the production. Caroline leaves and returns to the gallery multiple times, which allows other characters – MacKinlay’s weary curator Amy and Adrian Rebucas’s depressed artist Marshall – opportunities to reveal secrets that will detonate once Amy’s fiance John (Richard Young) arrives at the ruined one-night-only exhibition.
But in contrast to Albert’s Anywhere (also at the fest), which traps its characters together in a pressure cooker situation, The Grass Is Always Greenest simply ebbs.
Albert works in lots of debate about the value of art and the emotional pitfalls of its pursuit (and financial instability). Audiences have been lapping it up as of press time, there are just 18 tickets left for the run.