IRRESISTIBLE YOU by David King, directed by Ian Carpenter, with Earl Pastko. Presented by The Joke's on Me at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to October 3, Wednesday-Saturday and October 3 at 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15, Sunday matinee pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNN
Set in the Trans-Canada memories of its narrator, Irresistible You is nonetheless confined to a prison-like apartment in Vancouver. The alluring Ray ( Earl Pastko ) delivers a monologue of conquests, explanations and rationalizations, focusing on the many women from his past.
As he goes through his wardrobe, trying on shirt after shirt, Ray fills us in on his serial marriages and frequent mid-marriage affairs; he's a bee in a world of female flowers. The shirts he tries on and discards are a sign of his inability to settle on one woman, the fact that he can only commit for the short term.
He remembers all the women in detail, except for the name of one he dubs the Gypsy. Ironically, though, it's their daughter whom he ends up caring about - and for - the most, since Ray becomes her protective father.
And in order to guarantee her a good life and redeem himself, he's ready to change his life.
David King 's well-written though untheatrical script is the kind of storytelling that would work as effectively on the page as on the stage. Most of the time it's clever, and often faintly ironic, with a surprising touch of nostalgia as a chaser.
Pastko's Ray evinces enough charm to engage us, but I wish that between them he and director Ian Carpenter had injected the show with more adrenalin. So much of the 70-minute performance is laid-back and easy-going; a little tension would be appreciated.