SummerWorks review: Safe And Sorry

Play about pickup culture is disturbing, funny and utterly intriguing

SAFE AND SORRY by Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton (Lester Trips (Theatre)/SummerWorks). At the Theatre Centre Franco Boni Theatre. Aug 13 at 7:45 pm, Aug 16 at 5 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN

In this disturbing yet often funny look at pickup culture, Lauren Gillis plays Keith, the founder of a seminar called Powerplay, who instructs guys on ways to up their game with women. Alaine Hutton takes on a variety of roles as the dudes who sign up for Keith’s courses.

The workshops start off innocuous enough, but as Keith further develops his “method” he attracts creepier and more dubious followers, including people from the online underworld of incels.

Gillis avoids stereotypical pitfalls and remains surprisingly nuanced. Undertaking many roles, Hutton doesn’t get the same chance to develop characters, but cleverly defines each through body language, vocal variations and an eclectic selection of ball caps.

Under director Chelsea Dab Hilke, the production loses some steam around the 45 minute mark, but the staging of the final scene is riveting. Peter Demas’s film segments add interesting texture, however they can feel repetitive.

Part of SummerWorks Lab programming, the show is clearly a work in progress. The opening night performance ran almost 15 minutes overtime. Safe And Sorry is still kind of messy, but it’s utterly intriguing.

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