LIVING TALL by Mike Geither, directed by Karin Randoja (HopScotch Collective). At the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). To October 7. Pwyc-$20. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNN
In Living Tall , Ker Wells plays a slick salesman whose emotional life unravels as he delivers a presentation. Jeffrey Weaver is a less-than-tall ace appliance salesman straight out of the Glengarry Glen Ross school of obnoxious self-promotion. Wells, exploiting his hawk-like good looks and scratchy voice, fully inhabits this deluded character, from his faux baseball pitches out to the audience to his patronizing motivational advice.
The problem is, it's all been done before -- and better. The model for this kind of stripped-down show, in which a character is in control, then loses it, is Chris Earle's Radio :30. But that work had a better structure. Here, there's confusion about where reality ends and fantasy begins. It's hard to get oriented, and even after much workshopping, the piece's conclusion feels inconclusive and emotionally vague.
That's not the fault of Wells or director Karin Randoja . Randoja stages the piece with balletic grace, makes terrific use of props and even uses Wells's onstage perspiration to create an effective portrait of a man gradually being drowned by his own psychological demons.
Great performance and direction, but the script could still use tweaking.