THE GLASS EYE by Louis Negin and Marie Brassard, directed by Brassard (Negin/Harbourfront/Luminato). At Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay West). To June 13. $35. 416-872-1111. Rating: NNN
Louis Negin is one of those rare actors who's a true raconteur, a performer who turns personal anecdotes into a magnet, drawing an audience irresistibly into his world.
In The Glass Eye, created by Negin and director Marie Brassard, bits of fictionalized biography, film and a love of Hollywood glamour -- along with such props as a red-carpet runway, an awards-style microphone and a martini glass -- conjure up the story of a young gay man whose life around the globe is funny, sad and ultimately a bittersweet blend of the two.
It begins with the boy lost in the darkness of a movie house, dreaming of being a showgirl. He then launches into a series of Hebrew prayers sprinkled with the names of Hollywood legends, and we're off on a tale of self-discovery, from a Toronto hotel room to a gay time in Montreal with a bodybuilder daddy nicknamed Captain Marvel and performances at theatre centres around the world.
Sometimes tentative, sometimes brimming over with pride and surprises, Negin is a charming performer. His live work is complemented by film projections behind him, at times from the films he loves and at times documentary-style episodes featuring Negin; there's the fascinating juxtapostion of watching Negin (in the flesh) watching Negin (on the screen). Some of the most suggestive of the clips are a kind of rolling inventory of objects he mentions in the tales -- part history, part fantasy.
Entertaining, occasionally ironic, adding bits of torch songs to his narrative, Negin offers a loving look at youth and age and the frequent discrepancies between those two contrasted periods of life.
And the glass eye of the title? It's a motif, an object and a metaphor woven through the story. No spoilers here.