A GOOD IDEA (IN THEORY) by Emma Roberts, directed by Layne Coleman (Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson). To November 4. Pwyc-$25. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN
The brilliant ideas of one generation often seem like pure insanity to the next.
Take Otto (David Fox), the ruling patriarch in Emma Roberts's family comedy A Good Idea (In Theory). In the late 60s Otto came to Canada to dodge the draft and start a leftist commune on an unnamed northern Ontario island.
Now, 30 years later, his mini-fiefdom isn't quite what he dreamed it would be. His wife and friends have died, his younger daughter, Tricia (Aviva Armour-Ostroff), is a wide-eyed woman-child who's incapable of surviving in the greater known world, and Juliette (Catherine Fitch), his elder, is beginning to challenge her father's beliefs.
Creating a quirky family comedy with emotional depth is difficult. That this one succeeds is as much a testament to the high-powered cast - Fox so fully inhabits his monologues that you're pulled into his family's weird, sweet world - as it is to Layne Coleman's thoughtful direction.
Look how Coleman teases out a scene so that Tricia and Juliette don't seem like two freaks but rather two sisters who briefly connect.
Armour-Ostroff displays wide eyes and an even wider grin to update the archetypal Peter Pan sibling, while Ryan Hollyman is both hilarious and pitiful as Blake, a whiz-kid-turned-failed-poet who snivels that his hippy skills didn't prepare him for the real world.
A review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the effort Coleman and producer David Ceolin have made to bring in those elusive non-traditional theatre audiences.
A trailer in which the characters bitch about each other reality-TV-style can be viewed online (www.agoodidea.ca). And each show opens with a 15-minute set by one of five local indie musicians, with whom you can also familiarize yourself online.
Looks like some good ideas actually do play out.