ONE NIGHT STAND by Carol Bolt, directed by Sasha Wentges, with Jason Cadieux and Stephanie Jones. Presented by the Essential Players at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). For details, see this page.
Is there any situation tenser than a bar pickup? Wondering if he or she is good in bed. Wondering if I'm safe with this sexual partner. Carol Bolt's 1977 One Night Stand toys with that dramatic tension, even more in a version updated and tightened up by Bolt shortly before she died a few months ago.
On her birthday, Daisy (Stephanie Jones) picks up the guitar-playing Rafe (Jason Cadieux) for a night of titillating fun and games. There are lots of games, but the fun is as prickly as a knife blade.
"Carol agreed that the piece needed updating," says Jones, who performed it with Cadieux in Victoria last fall. "It was her answer to the film Looking For Mr. Goodbar -- none of us today buys the idea that going out looking for sex means getting killed. But since the 70s, I think people have become more dehumanized, and that's a driving point for Daisy. My Daisy has experienced raves, enjoyed ecstasy and is more sexually self-confident than her 70s counterpart."
Rafe's changed, too, from a good ol' country-music boy to an Enrique Iglesias latino tease whose stories hover between outrageousness and believability.
The trick to the performance is keeping the audience off-balance, teetering between laughter and shock as the piece moves from romantic comedy to psychological thriller. The show's original subtitle, A Comedy Thriller, has become Una Aventura, the Spanish equivalent of a one-night stand but a phrase that has an added frisson of danger.
It's up to the actors to shift the tonal gears smoothly, and Cadieux and Jones have proven their erotic chemistry in Scenic View and Sam Shepherd's Fool For Love.
"This is a tale for our time and our town, where Daisy goes down to an Adelaide strip rave and picks Rafe up. She doesn't have to look hard for her Mr. Goodbar -- she just goes out and finds him."*