Down Dangerous Passes Roadby Michel Marc Bouchard, translated by Linda Gaboriau, directed by Sarah Stanley, with David Jansen, Brandon McGibbon and Tony Munch. Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst). Runs to December 2, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$25, Sunday pwyc-$18. 416-504-9971.
quebec's michel marc bouchard is a master of the modern memory play. In what's almost become a formula, he (as in Lilies and The Orphan Muses) writes in dreamy, heightened language about characters haunted by their often abusive pasts who achieve closure in 90 minutes.Down Dangerous Passes Road (bad title, I know) follows this script, but the results are less compelling. It's second-rate Bouchard, given an uneven production by director Sarah Stanley.
About-to-be-married Carl (Brandon McGibbon) emerges from a car wreck with his brothers Ambrose (David Jansen) and, eventually, Victor (Tony Munch). The three stumble around, mutter poetic lines and then, in more naturalistic language, gradually skirt around the play's central mystery, their father's death 15 years before on the same road.
There are huge wads of bad, forced writing, with characters telling each other who they are and what they believe in. The repetition of poetic lines becomes annoying, and McGibbon's miscast as the materialistic youngest son who doesn't appreciate Ambrose's "fancy phrasing," a term that has the audience scratching their heads.
David Boechler's set has you walking down the gravelly road punctuated with trees to get to your chair (careful you don't cause a second accident), and it evokes a sense of immediacy and closeness.
The play only heats up in the final third. Here the writing comes alive, with Bouchard giving us clever ideas about men and bonding. It's here, too, that Munch finally appears, and of the three actors, only he infuses the play's often surreal language with consistent intelligence and meaning.