Restitution by Michael O'Brien, directed by Sarah Stanley, with Richard McMillan, John Dolan, Lisa Norton and Kelli Fox. Presented by Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). Runs to February 8, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Sunday and February 7 at 2 pm. $25-$34, Sunday pwyc-$25. 416-504-9971. Rating: NN Rating: NN
For such a flawed play, Michael O'Brien's Restitution has a pretty good beginning. Irish immigrant Seamus ( John Dolan ) accidentally kills his brother Stephen's ( Richard McMillan ) son with an axe, an act that soon results in Stephen's wife's ( Kelli Fox ) suicide.
But before you can attempt a bad Irish accent (and there are plenty onstage to compete with), O'Brien and director Sarah Stanley unravel a strange, directionless follow-up that's heavy on cursing and light on - well, pretty much everything else we expect of theatre.
O'Brien fails to develop any link between the two brothers, past or present. Basic elements like time and setting (we're told the play's set in the Ottawa Valley) are confusing, and farcical bits earn few laughs.
The momentum picks up in the second act, when O'Brien - who's adapted A Christmas Carol - seems to be inverting that tale into a twisted satire.
But trampling on Carolyn Smith 's ugly set - a big disc seems present only for a scene in the second act - are some of the best actors around. All wasted, except for the powerful Fox, who proves she can deliver any line and keep her dignity.