JOHN AND BEATRICE by Carole Fréchette, translated by John Murrell, directed by Leah Cherniak, with Caroline Cave and Rick Roberts. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman). In previews, opens Tuesday (February 20) and runs to March 24, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday (except February 17) 2:30 pm. Pwyc-$32. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNNN
We've all grown up believing in fairy tales, but people don't usually go as far as Beatrice in Carole Fréchette's modern romance John & Beatrice.
Sequestered on the 33rd storey of an abandoned building, she's a Rapunzel in a tower awaiting her Prince Charming. But being a 21st-century woman, Beatrice acts proactively to get his attention. Posters around town advertise that she's "seeking a man who will interest, move and seduce her."
When he shows up, John isn't quite what Beatrice had expected.
"Carole's written a contemporary fairy tale, offering the traditional structure and then breaking our illusions about romance and our antiquated ideas about perfect love and the ideal partner," smiles Caroline Cave, who plays Beatrice.
"Like many people, Beatrice thinks a relationship will save her, and thus places her happiness in the hands of someone else."
Cave, one of Toronto's finest performers, frequently portrays strong, serious, determined women who don't always end up with what they want. Whether playing the tantalizing Egyptian queen in Shaw's Caesar And Cleopatra, adolescent Lizzie in The Syringa Tree or Michel Tremblay's angry Albertine in Past Perfect, Cave gives heart and substance to her characters.
"One of the things I like about this play is that Beatrice knows what she wants but not how to get there, what her next step will be," offers the articulate Cave. "At some point, the gloves come off and she operates on instinct. She's a fascinating combination of spontaneity, hope and naíveté."
And for a change, the actorgets to perform comedy with adirector (Leah Cherniak) andan actor (Rick Roberts) whohave clown backgrounds.
“Leah can detect when actorsget out of their body andinto their head, cut off fromthe neck down. It’s important for Rickand me to be involved in the immediacyof the situation. No matter whatthe action is, if I’m enjoying the momentI know my work becomes luminousand vibrant, and the audience reactspowerfully to that.”