ONE NIGHT STAND by Carol Bolt, directed by Sasha Wentges, with Jason Cadieux and Stephanie Jones. Presented by the Essential Players at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to March 25, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$20. 416-504-7529. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
since its premiere in 1978, carol Bolt's dark comedy One Night Stand has received more than 100 productions. No wonder. The theme of picking up a stranger cries out with dramatic possibilities. Besides bringing up questions like "Will the sex be good?" and "Hey, is this person an axe murderer?", there's a built-in layer of real-time suspense as the characters' come-ons and entreaties reveal all, to themselves and us. A new revival mounted by a young theatre company called the Essential Players pushes all those buttons and more. So why does it go limp?
Bolt's script, updated with a few pop-culture references, still sizzles. Her larger themes of urban alienation and apathy are also valid, even if it's never clear what her characters want.
There's no problem with actors Stephanie Jones and Jason Cadieux, although Cadieux as a bizarre latino-obsessed man could add a little charm at the start -- he plays the menacing card too soon.
The intelligent Jones, as a bank teller who gets horny when she's stood up on her birthday, is always watchable. Her ability to scream effectively combined with a surprisingly lovely singing voice make me wonder if she's considered Little Shop Of Horrors.
But the play lacks direction. Sasha Wentges lets the humour go AWOL. Information that's revealed at the end isn't appropriately suggested at the start, and you never really believe the two characters.
The pickup and pickee seem an unfortunate collection of cliches from two eras, yet they never seem real in either.