DANCE OF THE RED SKIRTS (Theatre Columbus). To May 25. 416-531-1827. See listings. Rating: NNN
True to their name, Theatre Columbus enjoys making theatrical discoveries.
The land they uncover in Dance Of The Red Skirts may not be the most solid ground, but it’s definitely worth taking the trip to get there.
Inspired by Paul Klee’s abstract 1924 painting of the same name – a reproduction is displayed prominently in Victoria Wallace’s gallery-like set as well as on the program – the show attempts to whimsically bring the painting to life.
Early on, three strangers in an art gallery muse about the painting’s meaning. It it a dream? Are the people in it being sucked back into a hole? Is it an existential metaphor?Some of these ideas and others eventually float around the small Tarragon Extra Space venue as the three actors settle into distinct characters. Maev Beaty plays Celia, a schoolteacher who discovers she’s pregnant. Erin Shields is Rachel, a distraught student/wannabe singer whose grandmother has just died. And Greg Gale plays Roger, a man who’s tired of his monotonous job.
Each of them feels stuck in limbo and, through their interweaving narratives, manage to get a bit less unstuck.Whimsy is hard to pull off, and director Leah Cherniak sometimes loses focus. But there are some playful moments, including a bear on a high wire and a feisty Irish handpuppet. Thomas Ryder Payne’s sound design adds emotional resonance.
And the actors commit to their roles, bringing lots of honesty to their characters’ tragicomic predicaments.