Clout has none
by David Young, directed by Richard Rose, with Eric Peterson, Waneta Storms and R.H. Thomson. Presented by Necessary Angel, Factory Theatre and the National Arts Centre at the Factory (125 Bathurst). Runs to March 25, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc ($20 advance). 416-504-9971. Rating: NN there's very little that's right -- politically or otherwise -- about David Young's Clout. What's left doesn't amount to much either.
His satiric showdown between conservative newspaper baron Lionel K. Biggar (R.H. Thomson)-- apparently inspired by Conrad Black -- and dying leftie journalist Trent (Eric Peterson) has great potential.
After all, Young's no intellectual slouch. His previous plays have taken on colossal themes like the nature of art (Glenn) and men battling the elements while ushering in the modern age (Inexpressible Island).
Surprisingly for a play whose first image is a huge stack of newspapers, the political material in Clout is nonexistent. Sure, there's some talk about Vietnam, something vague about a picket line and a couple of rants tacked onto the beginning and end that elicit a smile or two.
But it's all a big tease. Just like when the play's single female figure (Waneta Storms), an unfortunate combination of castrator, eco-protestor and idealized earth mother, says to Trent, "Seduce me with your thinking." She, and we, end up waiting all night for it.
If Clout fails to deliver compelling dialectic, it also falls short in its attempts to get human, via a tired love triangle between the competing two men who dated the same girl, and an unoriginal look at the price of 60s radical ideology.
The fact that the play takes place in Trent's drugged-out mind during his final days before succumbing to cancer provides some interesting production possibilities. The unrealized set suggests a torture chamber and a reclining hospital bed, while Michael Wojewoda's sound design evokes the sinister dripping of an IV line.
In the end, Young's play -- competently acted, certainly -- devolves into a vague rant on men, sex and power. That's the only reason I can see for Trent to constantly be scratching his balls, or for Biggar's (even the name is symbolic) impotence.
Clout shoots blanks. GS