GENEROUS by Michael Healey, directed by Daryl Cloran (Tarragon, 30 Bridgman). To October 29. Pwyc-$38. 416-531-1827. See Continuing, page 86. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
A Gift To Last
Generous is a fitting title for Michael Healey's latest play, a satire about political and personal altruism.
Healey is one generous writer. His dialogue is sharp and spiky - he could have penned those snappy old Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movies. He's not out here to capture the way people talk in daily life.
This is conversation cranked up a couple of notches, and it's a gift for his actors - and us.
The play itself has a fascinating structure. In the first half, we're given the opening acts of four short two-act plays.
The second half resolves the plots, and characters from some storylines pop up in others.
The opening piece, a farce (complete with some cross-dressing) about a political party on the eve of being ousted, sets the mood, although the themes of power-mongering and generosity come out more effectively in the second piece, a high-stakes scene about a Greed Is Good businesswoman (Yanna McIntosh) and a bumbling reporter (Tom Barnett).
Director Daryl Cloran handles the play's technical demands with skill, although the actors should be paid crew wages for having to change the complicated set around so many times between scenes.
Not all the strands in Healey's script come together. You sense him trying too hard, for instance, to connect the idea of a one-party government with social isolation.
But the piece holds up. McIntosh bites hungrily into her role as a lusty Valkyrie of industry, while Jordan Pettle and Fiona Reid bring lots of nuance and shading to their roles as a talkative law clerk and judge who hook up and then must deal with the consequences.