DIRT DIRT DIRT
by Ron Chambers, directed by Michael Soulard, with Jonathan Wardle, Lara Koretsky, Cherie Ouellet, Sam Varentiuk and Gordon Wigg. Presented by Skinny Jo Productions at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick). Runs to March 3, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm. $12. 416-920-8712. Rating: NN there's little suspense and less laughter in Dirt, a comic murder mystery by Alberta writer Ron Chambers that also purports to dish out some social satire.
Focusing on the crude, cantankerous Murphy (Jonathan Wardle), the sole suspect in the death of his woman friend, the play draws in a number of eccentrics who attempt to pry the truth from him.
If the first few scenes contain some absurdist humour, it's largely lost in the slack premiere effort by Skinny Jo Productions, sabotaged by flabby rhythms and needlessly large performances by several cast members. Over-the-top acting works only if it's grounded in something real.
The one performance of note is that of Cherie Ouellet as Greta, the initially idealistic woman hired to babysit and regularly interrogate Murphy.
Ouellet conveys her character's humanity and a growing awareness of what those in power are doing to her and her charge.
But too often the script feels like middling TV writing, and even its attempts to look at social ills and the violence implicit in an us/them mentality become pallid before the final curtain. JK *