THIS CITY OF ANGELS THIS CITY OF ANGELS THIS CITY OF ANGELS
by Laura J. Forth, directed by Simon Malbogat and Forth, with Daniella Mae, Jean Trousdale, Hector, Tim Golden and Damian Andre. Presented by Mixed Company at Jane Mallett Theatre (27 Front East). Runs to March 3, Friday-Saturday 8 pm, March 2 matinee 1:30 pm. $18, stu/srs $12. 416-366-7723. Rating: NN best known for its audience-
participation forum theatre presentations, Mixed Company beats the drum of social consciousness differently in This City Of Angels. Presented by the group's Cobblestone Maple Leaf Youth Troupe, the ambitious show follows two sisters who run away from their abusive Mississauga parents to live on the downtown streets.
Laura J. Forth's script -- created in part with the actors, who all have street-life experience -- is best in its first half, when it's setting up the characters and presenting the social, sexual and economic issues they face.
There's honesty and simplicity in the writing, no attempt at emotional manipulation, in a script whose figures avoid self-pity. There's unexpected humour, too: neo-Nazis, anti-Nazis and cops spout almost identical words but clearly have diametrically opposed attitudes toward the homeless.
But the act closes with a melodramatic lurch, and the second act's narrative crams in plot twists better suited to a mainstream movie of the week. The show's songs are mostly wan, their lyrics sometimes hard to understand.
The performances are variable in quality -- the villains of the piece never grow beyond two dimensions -- though the actors' commitment is never in doubt.
As Angel, the elder sister, Daniella Mae has a good voice and stage presence, and she clearly projects Angel's emotional concerns. Tim Golden's Big Daddy, a kind of wise, politically savvy big brother to the street family, radiates positive energy.
Best of all is Hector as the streetwise Caesar, the sisters' guardian angel. The heart of the show, he not only plays the comedy well -- sending himself up as well as stereotypes -- but also knows how to be sentimental without veering into mawkishness.