CLOUT by David Young, directed by Richard Rose, with Eric Peterson, Waneta Storms and R.H. Thomson. Presented by Necessary Angel, Factory Theatre and the National Arts Centre at the Factory Mainspace (125 Bathurst). Previews begin Tuesday (February 20), opens February 22 and runs to March 25, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm and Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc/$20 advance, preview $9.99. 416-504-9971.
CLOUT by David Young, directed by Richard Rose, with Eric Peterson, Waneta Storms and R.H. Thomson. Presented by Necessary Angel, Factory Theatre and the National Arts Centre at the Factory Mainspace (125 Bathurst). Previews begin Tuesday (February 20), opens February 22 and runs to March 25, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm and Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc/$20 advance, preview $9.99. 416-504-9971. don't ever suggest to director Richard Rose that theatre is a one-man show -- or even that the director calls all the shots. His best artistic ally, he believes, is the audience."I don't like to give audience members everything. I let them impose their own notions. Their imaginations are richer than anything I can come up with."
Rose brings that assumption to his fruitful relationship with David Young, a playwright who specializes in giving viewers the opportunity to think and engage emotionally at the same time.
Four actors represent aspects of pianist Glenn Gould in the stimulating Glenn. Ill-fated explorers in Inexpressible Island search their innermost histories while surviving a numbing Antarctic winter. In Clout, the newest product of Young and Rose's collaboration, representatives of the political right and left hammer away at each other with their lives hanging in the balance. Literally.
We're sitting in Rose's downtown apartment, bright winter sun pouring in through industrial-style skylights. It's a very white apartment, but there are warm touches of colour -- the brilliant purple of violets shimmers on the kitchen counter, pots of yellow narcissus dot the landscape.
Artistic director of Necessary Angel Theatre, Rose likes difficult plays, both classics and contemporary works.
He has a knack for cracking open the tough plays of British writer Howard Barker. He takes lesser Shakespeare works like The Two Gentlemen Of Verona and fiddles with context to offer new insights.
It wasn't always so. I remember Necessary Angel's 1978 version of The Oresteia, their first professional production. Leaving the theatre, I told myself not to rush to another show by the company. I've been thankful on many occasions since then that I didn't take my own advice.
Rose laughs when I remind him of that early show.
"I look back on that effort as a muscle that had to be exercised," he says.
In 1981, Rose and his company hit the big time with Tamara, John Krizanc's environmental play set in pre-fascist Italy, which allowed the audience to choose a character to follow and in a sense to create their own play.
It became an international hit.
A few years later, when the Soulpepper founders were still training as part of the young company at Stratford, he and director Thom Sokoloski set up Autumn Angel, a Toronto rep company that included Maggie Huculak, Stewart Arnott, Tanja Jacobs, Kim Renders, Bruce Vavrina and Mark Christmann.
Rose faces a new challenge with Clout, which on the surface is both a mystery and a debate on the ethics practised by the left and the right. Trent, a liberal political columnist, and Biggar, his former boss and a condescending, right-wing newsprint czar, are kidnapped by a mysterious woman, an eco-terrorist who shape-shifts in her person and does reverse spins in her sympathies.
"David's plays are all landscapes of the mind," says the boyish-looking Rose. "In Clout, a scenario of capture and torture becomes a series of flashbacks. David's written a progression of nightmares that I have to make real."
In Trent and Biggar, Young sets up articulate antagonists who understand the power of the written word. He goes further, adds Rose, by exploring the inventive power of language and how it relates to the subconscious.
One of the by-products is the play's humour, where wit springs from a character's caustic anger.
"I spend a lot of time reading and rereading a play like this, visualizing it in theatrical terms. Our thoughts are our passions, which must at some level pass through language. That for me is the evocative point. If I can suggest something metaphorically in the staging, it leaps beyond a real room, time and space.
"David and I ask the audience to use the bare boxes of our sets as places where transformations can occur. What often happens in a realistic design is that the emotions become stuck and viewers aren't working with me.
"You need a special kind of locale for a metamorphosis to take place, a locale that keeps reinventing itself. That reinvention is a wilful act of the mind."