Steven McCarthy and Ieva Lucs connect in baggy Norway. Today.
NORWAY. TODAY by Igor Bauersima, translated by Anna Köhler, directed by Sarah Baumann (Theatre Smash). At Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). To September 21. Pwyc-$25. 416-531-1827. See Continuing. Rating: NNN
Igor Bauersima's Norway. Today is a rare play: a serious piece about suicidal angst that turns into a romantic comedy.
The suicidally inclined Julie (Ieva Lucs) enters a chat room looking for a partner for the deed and banishing those who don't want to talk about offing themselves. She meets August (Steven McCarthy), who agrees to join her at what turns out to be a precipice overlooking a fjord.
The play's first 20 minutes can be hard going and aren't always involving. What enlivens the scene is August, whose response to Julie's probing is sometimes peculiar, sometimes comical. Julie doesn't get the various tones in August's "typed" dialogue - does anyone think that an online LOL or :) are always indicative of someone's mood? - but the viewers who hear him speak the lines do.
The production is more engaging once the pair get to their chilly destination. Even here, some of the script is theatrically cool - which isn't always inappropriate given that much of the action takes place on a wintry bluff - but the two actors and director Sarah Baumann forge a strong emotional connection between the characters, whose thoughts focus on sharing and trust.
They're helped by designers Robin Fisher (set) and Michael Walton (lighting), and by Romeo Candido's video, all of whose contributions offer shifting visual and emotional perspectives on the growing relationship; the point of view of the action, and the characters' thoughts, both keep shifting. The video work - live handicam as well as pre-taped moments - adds layers to the dialogue.
But like the opening section, the final scene goes on too long. Despite its believable dialogue and engaging performances, Norway. Today isn't always an ideal travel destination.