RISER Project review: Wring The Roses

WRING THE ROSES by Amanda Cordner and David di Giovanni (madonnanera/RISER Project). At the Theatre Centre (1115 Queen West). Runs.


WRING THE ROSES by Amanda Cordner and David di Giovanni (madonnanera/RISER Project). At the Theatre Centre (1115 Queen West). Runs to May 14. Pay-what-you-can-afford ($12, $20, $35, $60). 416-538-0988. tickets.theatrecentre.org. Rating: NNN

When a quartet of Italian-Canadian women from Woodbridge goes on a wild bachelorette weekend in South America, they meet four bros from their home town at a nightclub, resulting in a life-changing experience for everyone.

That’s the premise of this entertaining and ambitious new play by Body So Fluorescent creators Amanda Cordner and David di Giovanni. The show’s novelty is that four actors play both sets of characters, making it a bravura display of directing (by di Giovanni) and acting, even if the script needs finessing.

Stephanie (Brefny Caribou) is the bride-to-be, a piece of work who’s got a strained relationship with her sister/maid of honour, Rosanna (Cordner) who’s suspicious of love and friends Rosalicia (En Lai Mah) and Rosemary (Eric Rich). Get the wordplay in the title?

There’s tension in the women’s relationships, including something (which could use clarifying) Stephanie did with another set of friends meanwhile, Rosalicia is glued to her phone, worried about her boyfriend back home.

When the women clad in similar slinky dresses and light pink wigs change into their guy gear, it’s clear what the creators are up to: contrasting the rituals and relationships of a certain Italian-Canadian suburban demographic.

Helped by Christine Urquhart‘s colourful production design, Lyon Smith‘s sound and Rebecca Vandevelde‘s lighting, di Giovanni has staged the piece in the round so the actors are almost always on display. Part of the fun of the show is watching them slip into and out of their outfits, although at times it seems overly fussy.

I wonder if the creators experimented with fewer props and costumes, especially since each of the actors is good enough communicating gender through voice and posture, with Mah’s two characters especially distinct.

The play’s denouement feels unearned, however, and the themes, among them labels and identities, could be better integrated into the script. The men are also less defined than the women.

But even at this early stage, there’s lots to enjoy in this show by two exciting emerging artists.

@glennsumi

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