JOE: THE PERFECT MAN by Rachelle Elie, directed by Adam Lazarus. Rating: NNN and UNICORN HORNS by Melissa Major, directed by Aleksandar Lukac (Crowning Monkey/The Cheshire Unicorn). Rating: NNNNN . Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). To November 18. Pwyc-$25. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNNN
There's nothing like watching a human train wreck in action.
If you're the type that takes pleasure in watching people suffer, you'll get a schadenfreudian kick out of Joe: The Perfect Man and Unicorn Horns , two performance-driven tragic comedies currently showing at Passe Muraille.
In the opener, Joe: The Perfect Man, Rachelle Elie plays modern-day buffoon Joe, a gap-toothed, 59-year-old schoolteacher (think Steve Carrell meets Stuart McLean) who wanders into an audition for Macbeth hell-bent on winning the title role. Joe isn't content to deliver a simple two-minute monologue.
Oh, no. He has to impress the director by performing the tragedy as a rock-opera ballet.
Under the direction of buffoon king Adam Lazarus , Elie reaches a zenith of silliness, especially in the rock-opera bit, which has Joe pulling out a smorgasbord's-worth of colourful noise-making devices and inviting audience members to whip Q-Tips, Rocky Horror Picture-style, into the fray.
Unfortunately, Joe's character is a little overblown at times, especially at the beginning, where verbal ticks (like an abrasive propensity to say "beeeubbs!") distract. Kinda feels like getting hit in the face with a giant pie, even if the crust is tasty.
The plot may not be exactly clear in Melissa Major 's surrealist play Unicorn Horns, but that doesn't matter. Major plays the androgynous Quiche, a wannabe actor who awakens after his/her 714th audition to discover that his/her husband has quite literally gone flat (as in paper-thin).
Major brings dark humour and a seemingly bottomless reserve of raw emotion to the role, and under the direction of Aleksandar Lukac , the pace never slackens. Major hops deftly from scene to scene - from ascetic doctor's office to grotty alley to dingy basement - until the play's surprisingly tender end.