LIVING WITH HENRY by Christopher Wilson (Beyond Boundaries). Factory Mainspace. See listing.
Times: January 10 at 8 pm, January 11 at 6 pm, January 13 at 7 pm, January 14 at 9 pm, January 15 at 2:30 pm. Rating: NN
In Living With Henry, revised from last year's successful Toronto Fringe Festival production, Christopher Wilson captures the complex, often contradictory emotions swirling through the mind of a man diagnosed with then living with HIV. But the 90-minute show itself never comes alive.
Ryan Kelly plays Michael, a musical theatre performer whose relationships with friends, family (at least his mother - his dad is strangely absent) and his boyfriend become strained as he navigates life with the virus.
HIV takes actual physical form as the titular Henry (David Silvestri), a sinister, hulking presence that follows Michael around. This promising idea isn't developed sufficiently by Wilson or director Donna Marie Baratta. But then again, none of the characters is. These are people who spew psychobabble about "negotiating" each other and sing monotonous, banal songs.
A couple of numbers have potential, especially a cleverly choreographed tango in a bathhouse, where the artistic team manage to illustrate a character's sexual escapism. Kelly works hard to make Michael sympathetic, but he's given nothing to work with. One duet is so naive, it feels like it belongs on Sesame Street, but without the wit and irony imparted by the Avenue Q folks.