>>> Review: Stitch

STITCH by Cliff Cardinal (Culture Storm/Native Earth). At the Aki Studio Theatre, Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas East). Runs to June.


STITCH by Cliff Cardinal (Culture Storm/Native Earth). At the Aki Studio Theatre, Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas East). Runs to June 14, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $15-$25, some Tuesday pwyc. 1-531-1402. Rating: NNNN

Bet youve never seen a play that features a yeast infection as a central character.

Its part of Cliff Cardinals dark and ultimately unnerving comedy Stitch, and shes named Itchia by her… um… host. Kylie Grandview (Georgina Beaty) is an internet porn star trying to juggle a shooting schedule thats abusive in several ways, the desire to be a real (read mainstream) screen actor and a daughter she loves more than anything else.

A hit at SummerWorks 2011, the play still packs a gut-wrenching punch.

Tracking several days in Kylies life, the show unfolds as a series of images not unlike an internet porn video, with Kylie as the narrator mouse-clicking viewers from one scene to the next. Along the way we meet a dozen or so characters, including her director, agent, mother and daughter.

All played by Beaty, the assortment of people are streamed through Kylies consciousness, so we never know if were getting an objective viewpoint. What we do know, however, is that Kylie wants the best for herself and Ayla, her bright daughter, though she cant seem to make any choices other than bad, self-destructive ones.

Discovered several years earlier by her agent, Johnnie Cockring, as a 17-year-old working at a McDonalds take-out, Kylie has a loyal following. But when she meets a guy at a VD clinic who asks her to audition for the role of a porn performer in a legit film, she jumps at the chance.

Things dont go well, and Kylie falls down an increasingly forbidding rabbit hole.

Under Jovanni Sys direction, Beatys Kylie is both self-aware and naive she knows that making another sex video only leads to more such films, yet still believes that she and Ayla have a bright future together.

Though the actors fine at highlighting Kylies various sides, some of the other women could be better defined. Ironically, the men in the porn stars world (including Johnnie, who sits on a chair as if hes straddling a huge cannon, to make us aware of his most important body part) are sometimes more clearly delineated.

Still, Beaty expertly reveals Itchias evil-twin nature the infection knows Kylie so well that Itchias tempting, needling and berating are all right on the mark. Seductive, smoking and lit in a hazy red light, this doppelganger is really scary.

Andy Moros production design is simple but razor sharp, using defining areas of light in the midst of the dark stage to move us around Kylies world. He knows how to hint at the emotional and physical violence that lurks in the murky background and sometimes steps centre stage.

Stitchs powerful climactic scene makes us look hard at Kylie and see what can make a face truly unforgettable.

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