SummerWorks Reviews 1

FIVE FINGERS by Robin Fulford, directed by Mark Cassidy. Presented by the Five Fingered Company at the Cameron. August 10.


FIVE FINGERS by Robin Fulford, directed by Mark Cassidy. Presented by the Five Fingered Company at the Cameron. August 10 at 8 pm, August 11 and 12 at 2:30 pm. Rating: NNNN

Unhappy slapUnhappy slap

A single slap destroys a young family in Five Fingers. Robin Fulford’s drama relies on everyday details to carry a shitload of emotional baggage. Expert at weaving together poetic moments from past and present, Fulford reveals the violence and needs underlying the routines of Anna, Tuck and their infant son. Director Mark Cassidy finds the proper rhythms for the tiny snapshots that make up this sometimes sensual, sometimes shocking portrait. Sarah Neville’s a sympathetic Anna, while Gord Rand’s Tuck relies on little-boy charm, guilt and intimidation to win back his estranged wife.JKA single slap destroys a young family in Five Fingers. Robin Fulford’s drama relies on everyday details to carry a shitload of emotional baggage. Expert at weaving together poetic moments from past and present, Fulford reveals the violence and needs underlying the routines of Anna, Tuck and their infant son. Director Mark Cassidy finds the proper rhythms for the tiny snapshots that make up this sometimes sensual, sometimes shocking portrait. Sarah Neville’s a sympathetic Anna, while Gord Rand’s Tuck relies on little-boy charm, guilt and intimidation to win back his estranged wife.JK

Fathers’ dayFathers’ day

THE WAIT ROOM by Michael Valliant-Saunders, directed by Marjorie Chan. Presented by Kinetic at Factory Upstairs. August 10-11 at 9:30 pm. Rating: NNN

A study of fathers and expectant fathers, The Wait Room brings together two nervous men in a hospital waiting room. Mark (Michael Valliant-Saunders) is a street kind of guy, while Dan (Sanjay Talwar) is an investment manager glued to his cellphone. Playwright Valliant-Saunders sets up class differences and assumptions each makes about the other, though he doesn’t fill in enough back story for Mark. Under Marjorie Chan’s direction, the actors fill out their characters with energy and emotion.JKA study of fathers and expectant fathers, The Wait Room brings together two nervous men in a hospital waiting room. Mark (Michael Valliant-Saunders) is a street kind of guy, while Dan (Sanjay Talwar) is an investment manager glued to his cellphone. Playwright Valliant-Saunders sets up class differences and assumptions each makes about the other, though he doesn’t fill in enough back story for Mark. Under Marjorie Chan’s direction, the actors fill out their characters with energy and emotion.JK

Damned goodDamned good

SIDESHOW OF THE DAMNED by Eric Woolfe, directed by Michael Waller. Presented by Eldritch Theatre at the Factory Studio. August 11 at 3:30 pm, August 12 at 6:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN

Eric Woolfe’s funny-scary homage to creepy horror anthology programs on TV and gruesome comic books is SummerWorks at its best. Woolfe has mastered the formula and language of the genre, from Ron Kennell’s faux-literary scaremeister host to the little plot twists that reward greed and avarice with bloody punishment. Michael Waller directs with obvious fun, and Paul Sportelli and Jay Turvey’s music adds to the spine-tingling experience. Tone is important here, and Waller never lets his actors go over the top. Besides Kennell, Hume Baugh, Darren Keay and Melody A. Johnson take their multiple roles seriously and are all the more hilarious and frightening. The real standout is Kimwun Perehinec, whose law student mom-to-be and accent-chewing fortune teller are eye-poppingly good.GS

Medium cool

THINK ON HER written and performed by Karin Randoja, directed by Raymond Bobgan. Presented by Luule Productions at the Factory Upstairs. August 9 at 8 pm, August 11 and 12 at 5:30 pm. Rating: NNN

With magnetic eyes, focused performing style and vibrant singing, Karin Randoja plays a medium who takes the audience on a journey into a dead woman’s past. The skilful Randoja uses multiple voices and the intimacy of the venue to rivet our attention. The text she’s created — drawn from Katherine Mansfield short stories — sometimes lets her down with its occasional narrative lapses and indistinct relationships. But the performance is sterling.JK

Bravura Brebner

OUR FATHER and MATADOR LOVE by Morwyn Brebner, directed by Kate Lynch. Presented by the Matador Project at the Cameron. August 10 and 11 at 5 pm, August 12 at 8 pm. Rating: NNNNN

Is there a funnier, more off-the-wall playwright in Toronto than Morwyn Brebner? Don’t think so. In two short pieces — Our Father, in which siblings journey to the dying father who abandoned them, and Matador Love, the blind date from hell — Brebner writes breathtaking dialogue, as outrageous as it is hysterical. And in Catherine Fitch and Tony Munch she has a pair of electric actors who work with director Kate Lynch to turn up the material’s wattage to maximum. JK

Fyffe flies

THE MALAYSIA HOTEL by Laurie Fyffe, directed by Guillermo Verdecchia. Presented by the Cleopatra Conspiracy at the Factory Studio. August 9 at 9 pm, August 11 at 11 pm. Rating: NNNNN

Gripping, smart and highly playable, Laurie Fyffe’s The Malaysia Hotel plays with big themes that touch on politics and various levels of exploitation. In a seedy traveller’s hotel in Bangkok in 1982, a Cambodian prostitute (M.J. Kang) tries to force a jaded Canadian teacher and writer (Leanna Brodie) to help her escape the country. From the turning on of the first light bulb and the sound of construction in the background, director Guillermo Verdecchia creates tension that doesn’t let up until the play’s powerful candlelit conclusion 55 minutes later. In two excellent parts for female actors, Kang and Brodie deliver note-perfect performances, evoking distinct worlds with separate mythologies and realities. With any luck and justice, Fyffe’s play will become a classic two-hander, discussed and argued over but above all performed.GS

Scattered S&M*

S&M* by Gordon Portman, directed by Portman and Nicole Stamp. Presented by Seeing the Emperor Theatre at the Factory Studio. August 9 at 10:30 pm, August 11 at 6 pm. Rating: NN

Gordon Portman’s ambitious S&M* attempts to satirize gay playwrights and right-wing politicians, but it’s too unfocused to make an impact. The play pits just-in-from-the-Prairies Jason (Duff MacDonald, way out of his depth as an actor) against bad-boy urban gay playwright Greg (the snakily charming Sean Tyson), juxtaposing their real encounters with fictional ones from Greg’s plays. There are far too many subplots, and the scenes-within-scenes are confusing. Worse, we never know what Jason wants or what he’s left behind. If he rejects Greg’s in-yer-face political art, what does he choose instead?GS

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