SummerWorks review: Hot Cuts

HOT CUTS by Aurora Stewart de Pena (Birdtown and Swanville). At Toronto Media Arts Centre Gamma Workspace. Aug 18.


HOT CUTS by Aurora Stewart de Pena (Birdtown and Swanville). At Toronto Media Arts Centre Gamma Workspace. Aug 18 at 5:30 and 8 pm, Aug 19 at 5:30 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN

Thanks to the SummerWorks Lab, an initiative which showcases new works still in development, we get a sneak peek at this promising new comedy from writer and director Aurora Stewart de Pena thats set in a 1980s mall hair salon.

The action follows visionary stylist Mikhail (Andy Cheng) and his dour associate Anita (Rebecca Applebaum) as they plan a bold new life-changing coiffure for regular client Linda (Naomi Skwarna). Tangles emerge when their weirdo apprentice Romaine (William Ellis) shows up and takes matters into his own hands, spurring a rivalry of epic proportions.

Stewart de Penas funny script pokes fun at this self-absorbed fashion subculture in a way similar to Zoolander, but also probes the different ways workers and clients craft grandiose meaning for themselves and each other in the simple act of sitting for a haircut.

With a strong cast and fabulous retro set, costume and sound design, Hot Cuts is well along the development track and could pass for a finished piece pretty easily. Moving forward, Stewart de Pena should consider ramping up the pace a little (which would make sense given the big, bright personalities of the characters) and also introducing the stakes which eventually emerge a little earlier in the story.

As a work-in-progress, Hot Cuts makes the cut, offering a glimpse into a funny and intriguing world we cant wait to see more of.

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