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TITLE AND DEED by Will Eno (Nightfall Theatrics). At Tarragon Workspace (30 Bridgman). Runs to October 8. $22. tarragontheatre.com. See.
Lately, it seems like the Tarragon cant get enough Will Eno. Last December, Richard Rose helmed a wonderful production of the acclaimed American playwrights The Realistic Joneses, and now director Stewart Arnott and performer Christopher Stanton are remounting this intriguing solo one-act, which they previously performed at Artscape Youngplace in late 2015.
Arnott and Stanton arent trying to keep up with Roses Joneses, which featured a big-budget realistic revolving set the more modest set-up here is limited to a collection of old lamps that cast a cozy living room vibe over the intimate Workspace. But folks who connected with Enos funny wordplay and keen observations about modern American awkwardness and alienation will find more of that here.
This hour-long solo show, which Eno wrote in 2011, focuses on a self-identified homesick foreigner, down on his luck in life and love and trying to decide if he should stay or return home. Stanton plays him as pathologically nervous, pacing the room, desperate to spin yarns for anyone who will listen. A broken man, hes reminiscent of a younger version of Shelley Levene from Glengarry Glen Ross. Through the mans anecdotes, self-deprecating humour and funny cultural comparisons with his unspecified place of origin, we slowly learn about his tragic past, challenging present and uncertain future.
Arnott does a good job managing Stantons manic energy, producing very funny moments, like a bit about airport security, but also very disturbing ones later in the play.
Stanton is convincing as this jaded, confused and lonely fellow. False starts on sentences that leave only awkward dead air (with the implication that what was coming is better left unsaid) produce big laughs but also hint at past emotional trauma and devastating self-doubt. This is the trajectory of the show overall: funny and quirky at first blush, but then darker and sadder further down his rabbit hole.
Enos examination of this desperate person displaced both physically and emotionally has a universal quality that is hauntingly familiar and relatable. Many will see pieces of themselves, or people in their lives, in Stantons moving performance.
That said, the shows scope and its characters appeal are limited when compared to Enos more varied and fleshed-out Joneses. Still, Title And Deed functions here as an intriguing companion piece and engrossing character study.