FRANKIE written and performed by Mary Ellen MacLean, directed and co-written by Mary-Colin Chisholm, co-created by Christian Murray. Presented by Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to December 15, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$25, Tuesday and Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: N Rating: N
It's incredible that with buddies in Bad Times' new play development initiatives, not to mention its edgy Rhubarb! fest, a play like Frankie made it onto the theatre's mainstage lineup.Mary Ellen MacLean's meagrely entertaining solo show about a hockey-playing lesbian's trip back to her class-of-82 high school reunion is a glorified 10-minute Fringe piece. At best.
The earnest script feels less written than patched together from a collection of queer cliches.
Begin with Carole Pope's High School Confidential. But then what? Hmm. Gay drag queen friend who gets bashed. Pot-smoking, songwriting ex-girlfriend. Parent who's upset that the word "gay" used to mean happy. Oh, and let's get in a few zingers at k.d. lang and the ex-gay movement, even though, to be sure, neither came to much prominence until years after 82.
Playing eight characters with confident physicality -- her rendition of a hockey game is the show's single surprise -- MacLean lacks depth. Her voice is shrill and obviously untrained, and two nights after opening, she muffed a dozen lines.
I have a feeling that Buddies is trying to broaden its mandate -- maybe to ensure bigger grant payola -- by mounting plays from across the country. Good in theory. But let's remember last season's dreadful wrestling play from out west?
Ironically, though Frankie is set in Dartmouth, NS, there's little sense of place. We might as well be in Scarborough.
Another gap: where is Frankie living now? What has she done in the past 20 years? Frankie, why should we give a damn?