Send in the clones

Rating: NNNNN[boxhead] by Darren O'Donnell, directed by Chris Abraham, with Paul Fauteux and Jim Jones. Presented by Go Chicken Go.


Rating: NNNNN

[boxhead] by Darren O’Donnell, directed by Chris Abraham, with Paul Fauteux and Jim Jones. Presented by Go Chicken Go and Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs to June 16, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $21-$30, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN

darren o’donnell’s [boxhead]feels like an experiment that’s pretty much complete now.The ambitious two-hander about cloning, the existence of God and the limitations of human consciousness seemed a little too in love with its own cleverness when it premiered two years ago.

That production, directed like this one by Chris Abraham, was nevertheless hugely theatrical, drawing on vaudeville and jazz for its rapid-fire rhythmic effects.

That same technical polish remains, but the show has moved from the smallish Factory Studio to the high-ceilinged Passe Muraille main stage. As a result, the cloned characters Dr. Thoughtless Actions (the returning Paul Fauteux) and Dr. Wishful Thinking (Jim Jones) now seem dwarfed — more lost than ever in their existential quests.

O’Donnell has also reworked the script. New songs add a note of intentional banality (and absurdity) to the proceedings, and render some of the ideas more accessible.

There’s still some repetition in the show’s final third, but the piece’s logic feels clearer. The climax also makes more sense, with the two boxheaded characters tragically contributing to their own destruction, like 21st-century Frankenstein monsters.

Romano DiNillo’s live percussion adds greatly to the ambience. Performing above the stage — only his gloves are visible — he’s like a deity. And Steve Lucas’s and Sandra Marcroft’s Dora-winning lighting design marks out the play’s universe efficiently.

Fauteux is as confident as ever in this intellectually rigorous and physically taxing role, and though Jones has problems controlling head movements within the box while speaking — something that’ll improve during the run — he’s got the manic energy to have fun with this most original play.theatre reviews

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