The real drama in The Facts Behind The Helsinki Roccamatios lies in the words, not the staging.
Based on a story by Yann Martel (Life Of Pi), the play deals with two male university friends forced to confront their mortality. It's the mid-80s, and Paul has contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. During Paul's last months, the unnamed Narrator becomes even closer to Paul and his well-to-do Rosedale family.
When the visits to Paul develop a downward curve, the Narrator suggests a game where he and Paul alternate telling stories about a mythical Finnish family of Italian origin, the Roccamatios. The framework for the stories is the 20th century, one year per story, with an event from that year inspiring a family tale.
We don't in fact hear the stories themselves except for a mention here and there. Instead, finding the stories too intimate, the Narrator talks about about the historic events that led to each tale.
While the concept and the writing are often clever -- the choice of a negative or positive event in each year echoes the negative or positive moods and physical states of the two men -- the presentation of the material gains little from staging.
The problem isn't that it's a period piece, though there's something of that about the work. Rather, the Martel piece stands well enough on its own, and the monologue that Eric Goulem delivers doesn't add much to the tale's power.
That's not a complaint about Goulem's performance as both the Narrator and Paul; he succeeds in keeping emotions hidden most of the time and breaking down subtly near the end. But projecting slides onto a hospital curtain and hanging up papers inscribed with the years and their events doesn't push the work sufficiently into the realm of drama.
Thematically, the The Facts deals with the power of storytelling to change our lives, inspire us, move us, sometimes give us hope. Reading the original has the same strengths, and not much is added by seeing it presented onstage.